Geologica Belgica

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Ellen R. MILLER & Gregg F. Gunnell

Toward an ecophyletic origin of anthropoid primates

(volume 16 (2013) — number 4 - Dispersal of continental vertebrates during the Paleogene)
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Mots-clés : Paleogene, Biogeography, Africa, Eurasia, Haplorhine, Strepsirhine, Anthropoid


The origin of anthropoid primates is examined from an ecomorphological perspective. An appeal is made to address the complexity of the initial anthropoid adaptation head-on, by bringing a variety of analytical approaches to bear and to encourage a move away from reconstructing anthropoid origins by relying on more reductionist phylogenetic methods only. Two major differing approaches to the study of anthropoid origins are reviewed, and an ecomorphological analysis that highlights the evolutionary novelties associated with early anthropoids is presented. The basic question addressed here is, “What makes an anthropoid an anthropoid”? That is, how exactly did early anthropoids differ from other contemporary primates? The emphasis is on anthropoid morphology as it is documented in the Paleogene of Africa, the time and place that the earliest known anthropoids occur, because anthropoid origins involved much more than a cladogenic event.

To cite this article

Ellen R. MILLER & Gregg F. Gunnell, «Toward an ecophyletic origin of anthropoid primates», Geologica Belgica [En ligne], volume 16 (2013), number 4 - Dispersal of continental vertebrates during the Paleogene, 284-289 URL :

About: Ellen R. MILLER

Department of Anthropology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27106, USA. E-mail:

About: Gregg F. Gunnell

Division of Fossil Primates, Duke University Lemur Center, Durham, North Carolina 27705, USA. E-mail: