Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University
Thursday 5, Plaza Level
The phylogenetic history of the Colobinae has been debated for decades and, despite advances in molecular phylogenetics, no classifications above the genus level are currently recognized within this subfamily. Furthermore, parsimony analyses of colobine phylogeny based on morphology are rare, leading to difficulties in discerning the relationships of fossil colobines. Paracolobus is a particularly enigmatic, large-bodied fossil colobine from the Plio-Pleistocene of Kenya. Though geographically an “African colobine” its links to the living colobus monkeys have yet to be tested within a strictly cladistic framework. To assess the phylogenetic position of P. chemeroni among extant colobines, molecular and morphological data were combined in the first total evidence analysis of the group. A total of 80 nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences were collected (~81 kb) and 85 craniodental characters were scored for all ten colobine genera, eight outgroup taxa, and two fossil taxa. Most of the craniodental characters were quantitative, gap-coded, and treated as ordered.
Equally-weighted parsimony analysis of the combined dataset supports the monophyly of African and Asian colobines, and places Paracolobus within the African colobine clade as the sister taxon of Colobus. This result is consistent with phylogenetic hypotheses posited by previous researchers. Middle Miocene Victoriapithecus macinnesi is placed as the sister group to living cercopithecoids. Future studies will expand this matrix by adding other DNA sequences, postcranial characters, and a number of fossil colobines from Africa, Europe, and Asia in an effort to understand the evolutionary and biogeographic history of this subfamily.
This research was supported by Stony Brook University and Turkana Basin Institute.