Craig Wuthrich received his Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology in 2018.
Wrist morphology reveals substantial locomotor diversity among early catarrhines: an analysis of capitates from the early Miocene of tinderet (Kenya)
Craig Wuthrich, Laura M. MacLatchy, & Isaiah O. Nengo
Considerable taxonomic diversity has been recognised among early Miocene catarrhines (apes, Old World monkeys, and their extinct relatives). However, locomotor diversity within this group has eluded characterization, bolstering a narrative that nearly all early catarrhines shared a primitive locomotor repertoire resembling that of the well-described arboreal quadruped Ekembo heseloni. Here we describe and analyse seven catarrhine capitates from the Tinderet Miocene sequence of Kenya, dated to ~20 Ma. 3D morphometrics derived from these specimens and a sample of extant and fossil capitates are subjected to a series of multivariate comparisons, with results suggesting a variety of locomotor repertoires were present in this early Miocene setting. One of the fossil specimens is uniquely derived among early and middle Miocene capitates, representing the earliest known instance of great ape-like wrist morphology and supporting the presence of a behaviourally advanced ape at Songhor. We suggest Rangwapithecus as this catarrhine’s identity, and posit expression of derived, ape-like features as a criterion for distinguishing this taxon from Proconsul africanus. We also introduce a procedure for quantitative estimation of locomotor diversity and find the Tinderet sample to equal or exceed large extant catarrhine groups in this metric, demonstrating greater functional diversity among early catarrhines than previously recognised.