Australopithecine orangutan (or orangutine Australopithecus)

Fet, Victor fet at MARSHALL.EDU
Wed Jan 28 15:20:11 CST 2004

sorry, the LISTSERV server quarantined my PDF attachment. 

Here is the abstract:

Nature 427, 439 - 441 (29 January 2004); doi:10.1038/nature02245  

A new orang-utan relative from the Late Miocene of Thailand


1 Paleontology Section, Geological Survey Division, Department of Mineral Resources, Bangkok-10400, Thailand
2 Rajabhat Institute Nakorn Ratchasima, Nakorn Ratchasima-30000, Thailand
3 Museum and Aquarium Division, Department of Fisheries, Bangkok-10900, Thailand
4 Paléontologie, I.S.E.M., cc 064, CNRS-Université Montpellier II, Place Eugene Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier, France

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to Y.C. (yaowalak at

The fossil record of the living great apes is poor. New fossils from undocumented areas, particularly the equatorial forested habitats of extant hominoids, are therefore crucial for understanding their origins and evolution. Two main competing hypotheses have been proposed for orang-utan origins: dental similarities support an origin from Lufengpithecus, a South Chinese and Thai Middle Miocene hominoid; facial and palatal similarities support an origin from Sivapithecus, a Miocene hominoid from the Siwaliks of Indo-Pakistan. However, materials other than teeth and faces do not support these hypotheses. Here we describe the lower jaw of a new hominoid from the Late Miocene of Thailand, Khoratpithecus piriyai gen. et sp. nov., which shares unique derived characters with orang-utans and supports a hypothesis of closer relationships with orang-utans than other known Miocene hominoids. It can therefore be considered as the closest known relative of orang-utans. Ancestors of this great ape were therefore evolving in Thailand under tropical conditions similar to those of today, in contrast with Southern China and Pakistan, where temperate or more seasonal climates appeared during the Late Miocene.

Victor Fet
Department of Biological Sciences
Marshall University, 
Huntington, WV 25755-2510 USA
phone (304) 696-3116, fax (304) 696-3243

-----Original Message-----
From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU] On Behalf Of John Grehan
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 3:05 PM
Subject: [TAXACOM] Australopithecine orangutan (or orangutine Australopithecus)

For those following this thread there is a very nice reconstruction of skull StW 252 (supposedly Australopithecus africanus) at If anyone has any doubts about the orangutan-like form of australopithecines this should give a good indication. Of course not all australopithecines are so pronounced in the orangutan form as StW 252 although they all share with orangutans the configuration of cheekbone, eyebrow, and palate (and nothing so far as I know at present that is definitively chimpanzee).

Apparently there is also no fossil and living skeletal synapomorphies for what is currently recognized as the genus Homo.


Dr. John Grehan
Director of Science and Collections
Buffalo Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Parkway
Buffalo, New York 14211-1293
Voice 716-896-5200 x372
Fax 716-897-6723
jgrehan at

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