Evolutionary Morphology, Platyrrhine Evolution, and Systematics


  • Alfred L. Rosenberger

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York, Brooklyn, New York
    2. New York Consortium in Primatology (NYCEP), The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, New York, New York
    3. The American Museum of Natural History, Department of Mammalogy, New York, New York
    • Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York. New York
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This special volume of the Anatomical Record focuses on the evolutionary morphology of New World monkeys. The studies range from three-dimensional surface geometry of teeth to enamel ultrastructure; from cranioskeletal adaptations for eating leaves and seeds to the histology of taste bud proxies; from the architecture of its bones to the mechanoreceptors of the tail's skin; from the physical properties of wild foods to the feeding biomechanics of jaws and skull; from the shapes of claws and fingertips, and of elbows, to the diversity and morphology of positional behavior; from the vomeronasal organ and its biological roles to links between brains, guts, sociality, and feeding; from the gum-eating adaptations of the smallest platyrrhines to the methods used to infer how big the largest fossil platyrrhines were. They demonstrate the power of combining functional morphology, behavior, and phylogenetic thinking as an approach toward reconstructing the evolutionary history of platyrrhine primates. While contributing new findings pertaining to all the major clades and ecological guilds, these articles reinforce the view that platyrrhines are a coherent ecophylogenetic array that differentiated along niche dimensions definable principally by body size, positional behavior, and feeding strategies. In underlining the value of character analysis and derived morphological and behavioral patterns as tools for deciphering phylogenetic and adaptational history, doubts are raised about a competing small-bore morphological method, parsimony-based cladistic studies. Intentionally designed not to enlist the rich reservoir of platyrrhine evolutionary morphology, an empirical assessment of the costs incurred by this research stratagem reveals inconsistent, nonrepeatable, and often conflicting results. Anat Rec, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.