The distal tibia of Hispanopithecus laietanus: More evidence for mosaic evolution in Miocene apes

Melissa Tallman, Sergio Almécija, Samantha L. Reber, David M. Alba, Salvador Moyà-Solà

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    13 Citations (Scopus)


    IPS18800 is a partial skeleton attributed to the fossil great ape Hispanopithecus laietanus, and dated to 9.6 Ma (millions of years ago). Previous studies on the postcranial anatomy of this taxon have shown that it displayed a derived, extant great ape-like orthograde body plan with suspensory adaptations, uniquely coupled with adaptations for above-branch pronograde locomotion. Here, for the first time, we describe and analyze in detail the distal tibia of the IPS18800 skeleton of Hispanopithecus with the aid of three-dimensional geometric morphometrics based on 53 landmarks and semilandmarks collected on a broad sample of extant catarrhines and fossil hominoids. Results of principal components and canonical variate analyses reveal that the distal tibia of Hispanopithecus occupies a unique position in the morphospace, similar in some respects to pronograde monkeys, and in other respects to extant apes. The IPS18800 distal tibia combines adaptations for above branch quadrupedalism, such as a keeled trochlear surface and strong intercollicular groove, with adaptations for vertical climbing, such as an anteroposteriorly flattened shaft, enlarged fibular facet and a tibial stop. These results on the distal tibia agree with those from other anatomical regions, indicating that this taxon displayed a locomotor repertoire unlike any extant ape, combining vertical climbing and clambering with above-branch quadrupedalism. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)319-327
    JournalJournal of Human Evolution
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


    • Functional morphology
    • Geometric morphometrics
    • Hominoid evolution
    • Postcrania


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