Orang-like manual adaptations in the fossil hominoid Hispanopithecus laietanus: First steps towards great ape suspensory behaviours

S. Almécija, D. M. Alba, S. Moyà-Solà, M. Köhler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Morphological and biometrical analyses of the partial hand IPS18800 of the fossil great ape Hispanopithecus laietanus ( = Dryopithecus laietanus), from the Late Miocene (about 9.5 Ma) of Can Llobateres (Catalonia, Spain), reveal many similarities with extant orang-utans (Pongo). These similarities are interpreted as adaptations to below-branch suspensory behaviours, including arm-swinging and clambering/postural feeding on slender arboreal supports, due to an orang-like double-locking mechanism. This is confirmed by the long and highly curved phalanges of Hispanopithecus. The short and stout metacarpals with dorsally constricted heads, together with the dorsally extended articular facets on proximal phalanges, indicate the persistence of significant degrees of palmigrady. A powerful grasping capability is indicated by the great development of basal phalangeal tubercles, the marked insertions for the flexors on phalangeal shafts and the large pits for the collateral ligaments. The morphology of the Hispanopithecus long bones of the hand indicates a unique positional repertoire, combining orthogrady with suspensory behaviours and palmigrade quadrupedalism. The retention of powerful grasping and palmigrady suggests that the last common ancestor of hominids might have been more primitive than what can be inferred on the basis of extant taxa, suggesting that pronograde behaviours are compatible with an orthograde bodyplan suitable for climbing and suspension. © 2007 The Royal Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2375-2384
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume274
Issue number1624
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2007

Keywords

  • Evolution
  • Fossil primates
  • Hand
  • Hominoidea
  • Locomotion
  • Paleobiology

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