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Taxonomic affinities of the Eppelsheim femur

Taxonomic affinities of the Eppelsheim femur

American Journal of Physical Anthropology 119(4): 297-304

The taxonomic affinities of the Eppelsheim femur, known as Paidopithex, have been unclear for more than a century. Over the years, due to similarities with Pliopithecus, some authors have considered it a large pliopithecid, while others refer to it as Dryopithecus. The issue could not be resolved, because no definitive Dryopithecus femora were available. With the discovery of the Dryopithecus laietanus skeleton from Can Llobateres (CLl 18800), it has become possible to test the attribution of the Eppelsheim femur to Dryopithecus on the basis of direct morphological and metrical comparisons. By means of allometric techniques, we show that the Eppelsheim and D. laietanus femora fit different hindlimb morphologies with regard to relative length and relative head/neck size, with Paidopithex significantly differing from Dryopithecus, but more closely resembling Pliopithecus. Paidopithex also differs from Dryopithecus in other important aspects, such as its lower neck/shaft angle, lack of elevation of the femoral head above the greater trochanter, more posteriorly oriented lesser trochanter, and proximal shaft diameter thicker anteroposteriorly than mediolaterally. In these features, Paidopithex most closely resembles Pliopithecus in spite of differences in body mass (ca. 22 kg vs. ca. 10 kg, respectively). These features suggest that Paidopithex used a primitive locomotor pattern associated with arboreal quadrupedalism, instead of the more derived pattern displayed by Dryopithecus. Currently available evidence confirms that the attribution of Paidopithex to Dryopithecus can be rejected. Paidopithex could be a large and otherwise unknown pliopithecid, but the possibility cannot be ruled out that it represents a third kind of catarrhine.

Accession: 011454222

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PMID: 12448015

DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.10140

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