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Q: dental apes ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: dental apes
Category: Science
Asked by: sukhbir1234-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 19 Jul 2004 21:08 PDT
Expires: 18 Aug 2004 21:08 PDT
Question ID: 376513
what is meant by the expression 'dental apes' and how do these animals
relate to anthropoid apes today? Did a "dental apes" move in the same
way apes move today? explain?
Subject: Re: dental apes
Answered By: librariankt-ga on 27 Jul 2004 11:50 PDT
Hi Sukhbir,

The dental apes were hominoid apes that had teeth like modern apes but
a skeleton shaped like ancestral monkeys (much more primitive in
phylogeny than modern apes).  There's some discussion as to whether
they were arboreal or strictly terrestrial, but it seems clear that
they weren't "swingers" as modern monkeys are.  Probably more
four-legged walkers than modern monkeys.

Here are a number of websites that mention dental apes, where I think
you'll find some more information:

Physical Anthropology: The Nonhominid Primate Fossil Record
"The superfamily Hominoidea includes the living apes and humans. The
earliest hominoids to appear in the fossil record are from the Early
Miocene fossil beds of east Africa, dated between 22 and 18 million
B.P. They are sometimes called "dental apes" because their dentition
was reminiscent of modern apes in many ways, while their postcranial
skeleton is monkeylike, or perhaps simply primitive. Most of the
hominoids disappeared from the fossil record by around eight million
years ago during the Late Miocene. However, one genus,
Gigantopithecus, survived into the Pleistocene of China. Perhaps the
earliest known Early Miocene hominoid is Proconsul. The cranium shows
many features that characterize the early Old World anthropoids.
Proconsul was probably an arboreal quadruped that lacked
specializations for suspensory behavior that are found in modern

According to
(class notes for Anthropology 1602 from the University of Minnesota at
Duluth, "Dental apes are 'apes' with monkey-like bodies who did not
hang or swing"

Parallel evolution in the hominoid trunk and forelimb 
Susan G. Larson
The evolutionary history of the living hominoids has remained elusive
despite years of exploration and the discovery of numerous Miocene
fossil ape species. Part of the difficulty can be attributed to the
changing nature of our views about the course of hominoid evolution.
In the 1950s and 1960s, individual Miocene taxa were commonly viewed
as the direct ancestors of specific living ape species, suggesting an
early divergence of the modern lineages.1-5 However, in most cases,
the Miocene forms were essentially dental apes, resembling extant
species in dental and a few cranial features, but possessing more
primitive postcranial features that suggested arboreal quadrupedalism
rather than suspensory habits. With the introduction of molecular
methods of phylogenetic reconstruction and the increasing use of
cladistic analysis, it has become apparent that the radiation leading
to the modern hominoids was somewhat more recent than had been
believed, and that most of the Miocene hominoid species had little to
do with the evolutionary history of the living apes.  1998
Wiley-Liss, Inc."
- note: the full article for this is available direct from Wiley, but
you probably have the journal in your university library, so check
there first (it'll be a lot cheaper!).

Northern Arizona University Anthropology 101
If you scroll down to miocene hominoids, you'll see a discussion of
several genera and species that are known dental apes.

To find these sites I did a search of the Google engine for "dental
apes".  I also looked up some information on some genera within the
dental apes - such as Proconsul - to get some background.  You might
find it helpful to also do a search for "miocene hominoids" and the
genus of interest (Proconsul, Aegyptopithicus, Sivapithecus are
examples).  Please let me know how I can help further with this or any
other question!

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