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The Taxonomic and Phylogenetic Affinities of Bunopithecus sericus, a Fossil Hylobatid from the Pleistocene of China.

Ortiz A, Pilbrow V, Villamil CI, Korsgaard JG, Bailey SE, Harrison T - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Our results show that differences in M2 and M3 discriminate extant hylobatids fairly well, at least at the generic level, and that AMNH 18534 is not attributable to Hylobates, Nomascus or Symphalangus.In most multivariate analyses, Bunopithecus presents a unique morphological pattern that falls outside the range of variation of any hylobatid taxon, although its distance from the cluster represented by extant hoolocks is relatively small.Our results support the generic distinction of Bunopithecus, which most likely represents an extinct crown hylobatid, and one that may possibly represent the sister taxon to Hoolock.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Center for the Study of Human Origins, Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, New York, United States of America; New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP), New York, New York, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Fossil hylobatids are rare, but are known from late Miocene and Pleistocene sites throughout East Asia. The best-known fossil hylobatid from the Pleistocene of China is a left mandibular fragment with M2-3 (AMNH 18534), recovered from a pit deposit near the village of Yanjinggou in Wanzhou District, Chongqing Province. Matthew and Granger described this specimen in 1923 as a new genus and species, Bunopithecus sericus. Establishing the age of Bunopithecus has proved difficult because the Yanjinggou collection represents a mixed fauna of different ages, but it likely comes from early or middle Pleistocene deposits. Although the Bunopithecus specimen has featured prominently in discussions of hylobatid evolution and nomenclature, its systematic status has never been satisfactorily resolved. The present study reexamines the taxonomic and phylogenetic relationships of Bunopithecus by carrying out a detailed comparative morphometric study of its lower molars in relation to a large sample of modern hylobatids. Our results show that differences in M2 and M3 discriminate extant hylobatids fairly well, at least at the generic level, and that AMNH 18534 is not attributable to Hylobates, Nomascus or Symphalangus. Support for a close relationship between Bunopithecus and Hoolock is more equivocal. In most multivariate analyses, Bunopithecus presents a unique morphological pattern that falls outside the range of variation of any hylobatid taxon, although its distance from the cluster represented by extant hoolocks is relatively small. Our results support the generic distinction of Bunopithecus, which most likely represents an extinct crown hylobatid, and one that may possibly represent the sister taxon to Hoolock.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Map of East and Southeast Asia showing the historical and present distribution of gibbons (Hoolock, Hylobates and Nomascus).The black star indicates the location of the village of Yanjinggou (Wanzhou District, Chongqing Province, China), where Bunopithecus sericus was found. Adapted from Gu [7], Gao et al. [30] and Geissmann [80].
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pone.0131206.g007: Map of East and Southeast Asia showing the historical and present distribution of gibbons (Hoolock, Hylobates and Nomascus).The black star indicates the location of the village of Yanjinggou (Wanzhou District, Chongqing Province, China), where Bunopithecus sericus was found. Adapted from Gu [7], Gao et al. [30] and Geissmann [80].

Mentions: This opens up the intriguing possibility that an extinct gibbon taxon, in the form of Bunopithecus, may have occupied parts of China to the north and east of the current geographic distribution of extant gibbons during the Pleistocene-Holocene, and may have even survived into historic times (Fig 7). Evidence from historical records shows that gibbons in China were much more widely distributed in the recent past than they are today, extending as far north as the Yellow River and eastwards as far as Zhejiang Province [7, 28, 30, 80]. Records of hylobatids south of the Xijiang River are almost certainly attributable to Nomascus, and these serve to fill the present-day geographic divide between the disjunct distribution of Nomascus in western China, Vietnam and Laos and isolated populations on Hainan (Fig 7). In addition, teeth of fossil gibbons from cave sites in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are consistent in size with those of Nomascus and, like their modern counterparts, they retain a high incidence of cingula on the upper and lower molars [7]. These lines of evidence indicate that Nomascus occupied much of southern China from at least the Early Pleistocene onwards. The taxonomic identity of recently extirpated gibbons to the north of the Xijiang River is much harder to establish. Geissmann [80] has suggested that paintings of gibbons that were living in Hunan and Hubei Provinces in central China during the eleventh century are strikingly similar to Hoolock. This could potentially extend the geographic range of the genus eastwards more than 1,200 km beyond its present-day distribution. However, an alternative interpretation is conceivable. The historic records of gibbons from central China south of the Yangtze River may refer to an extinct genus of hylobatid (Fig 7). Since these occurrences are in the same general region as Yanjinggou, it is plausible that the extinct genus was represented during the Pleistocene by Bunopithecus sericus. In this case, the apparent similarities to Hoolock in the historical depictions of gibbons from central China would not be unexpected given that the results of our study indicate that Bunopithecus is likely to be the sister taxon of Hoolock. It may well be that the mandibular fragment from the Pleistocene of Yanjinggou represents an extinct hylobatid genus, Bunopithecus, which was once widely distributed across central and eastern China before becoming extinct in historic times.


The Taxonomic and Phylogenetic Affinities of Bunopithecus sericus, a Fossil Hylobatid from the Pleistocene of China.

Ortiz A, Pilbrow V, Villamil CI, Korsgaard JG, Bailey SE, Harrison T - PLoS ONE (2015)

Map of East and Southeast Asia showing the historical and present distribution of gibbons (Hoolock, Hylobates and Nomascus).The black star indicates the location of the village of Yanjinggou (Wanzhou District, Chongqing Province, China), where Bunopithecus sericus was found. Adapted from Gu [7], Gao et al. [30] and Geissmann [80].
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4495929&req=5

pone.0131206.g007: Map of East and Southeast Asia showing the historical and present distribution of gibbons (Hoolock, Hylobates and Nomascus).The black star indicates the location of the village of Yanjinggou (Wanzhou District, Chongqing Province, China), where Bunopithecus sericus was found. Adapted from Gu [7], Gao et al. [30] and Geissmann [80].
Mentions: This opens up the intriguing possibility that an extinct gibbon taxon, in the form of Bunopithecus, may have occupied parts of China to the north and east of the current geographic distribution of extant gibbons during the Pleistocene-Holocene, and may have even survived into historic times (Fig 7). Evidence from historical records shows that gibbons in China were much more widely distributed in the recent past than they are today, extending as far north as the Yellow River and eastwards as far as Zhejiang Province [7, 28, 30, 80]. Records of hylobatids south of the Xijiang River are almost certainly attributable to Nomascus, and these serve to fill the present-day geographic divide between the disjunct distribution of Nomascus in western China, Vietnam and Laos and isolated populations on Hainan (Fig 7). In addition, teeth of fossil gibbons from cave sites in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are consistent in size with those of Nomascus and, like their modern counterparts, they retain a high incidence of cingula on the upper and lower molars [7]. These lines of evidence indicate that Nomascus occupied much of southern China from at least the Early Pleistocene onwards. The taxonomic identity of recently extirpated gibbons to the north of the Xijiang River is much harder to establish. Geissmann [80] has suggested that paintings of gibbons that were living in Hunan and Hubei Provinces in central China during the eleventh century are strikingly similar to Hoolock. This could potentially extend the geographic range of the genus eastwards more than 1,200 km beyond its present-day distribution. However, an alternative interpretation is conceivable. The historic records of gibbons from central China south of the Yangtze River may refer to an extinct genus of hylobatid (Fig 7). Since these occurrences are in the same general region as Yanjinggou, it is plausible that the extinct genus was represented during the Pleistocene by Bunopithecus sericus. In this case, the apparent similarities to Hoolock in the historical depictions of gibbons from central China would not be unexpected given that the results of our study indicate that Bunopithecus is likely to be the sister taxon of Hoolock. It may well be that the mandibular fragment from the Pleistocene of Yanjinggou represents an extinct hylobatid genus, Bunopithecus, which was once widely distributed across central and eastern China before becoming extinct in historic times.

Bottom Line: Our results show that differences in M2 and M3 discriminate extant hylobatids fairly well, at least at the generic level, and that AMNH 18534 is not attributable to Hylobates, Nomascus or Symphalangus.In most multivariate analyses, Bunopithecus presents a unique morphological pattern that falls outside the range of variation of any hylobatid taxon, although its distance from the cluster represented by extant hoolocks is relatively small.Our results support the generic distinction of Bunopithecus, which most likely represents an extinct crown hylobatid, and one that may possibly represent the sister taxon to Hoolock.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Center for the Study of Human Origins, Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, New York, United States of America; New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP), New York, New York, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Fossil hylobatids are rare, but are known from late Miocene and Pleistocene sites throughout East Asia. The best-known fossil hylobatid from the Pleistocene of China is a left mandibular fragment with M2-3 (AMNH 18534), recovered from a pit deposit near the village of Yanjinggou in Wanzhou District, Chongqing Province. Matthew and Granger described this specimen in 1923 as a new genus and species, Bunopithecus sericus. Establishing the age of Bunopithecus has proved difficult because the Yanjinggou collection represents a mixed fauna of different ages, but it likely comes from early or middle Pleistocene deposits. Although the Bunopithecus specimen has featured prominently in discussions of hylobatid evolution and nomenclature, its systematic status has never been satisfactorily resolved. The present study reexamines the taxonomic and phylogenetic relationships of Bunopithecus by carrying out a detailed comparative morphometric study of its lower molars in relation to a large sample of modern hylobatids. Our results show that differences in M2 and M3 discriminate extant hylobatids fairly well, at least at the generic level, and that AMNH 18534 is not attributable to Hylobates, Nomascus or Symphalangus. Support for a close relationship between Bunopithecus and Hoolock is more equivocal. In most multivariate analyses, Bunopithecus presents a unique morphological pattern that falls outside the range of variation of any hylobatid taxon, although its distance from the cluster represented by extant hoolocks is relatively small. Our results support the generic distinction of Bunopithecus, which most likely represents an extinct crown hylobatid, and one that may possibly represent the sister taxon to Hoolock.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus