The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

New morphological diagnoses and specimen attributions of the Kisingiri Proconsul species, P. nyanzae and P. heseloni


1Evolutionary Anthropology Labs, University of Minnesota, 2Leverhulme Fellow, Anthropology, Durham University, 3Anthropology, University of Toronto, 4Institute of Human Origins and School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

Thursday 2:15-2:30, Broadway III/IV Add to calendar

The early Miocene primate Proconsul is one of the best represented catarrhines in the fossil record. Among the several species attributed to this genus, those from the Kisingiri localities of Rusinga and Mfangano Islands – P. nyanzae and P. heseloni – are known from the largest samples. Nevertheless, there has been little documentation of the morphological features that distinguish between these two species. When P. heseloni was named (Walker et al., 1993), no differential diagnosis with P. nyanzae was given, although it was implied that P. nyanzae is substantially larger, and only four enumerated craniodental specimens were assigned to P. heseloni. Further, despite a large number of canines preserved in the overall sample, including some in associated specimens, studies that recognize two species of Kisingiri Proconsul have consistently failed to identify female specimens of the larger P. nyanzae. Here, we report results of an analysis of the cranial, mandibular, and dental variation in the Kisingiri Proconsul sample. Our study adds substantially to the number of characters by which P. nyanzae and P. heseloni can be distinguished, and results in revised and expanded hypodigms for both species. We also make some important changes in specimen attributions. For example, the iconic KNM-RU 7290 (“Mary’s skull”) is identified as a P. nyanzae female. These revised hypodigms extend the range of metric variation in both species, suggest more overlap in their inferred body sizes, and result in a more balanced representation of males and females.

This research was supported by: grants from the NSF, University of Minnesota, and McKnight Foundation to KPM; NSERC, University of Toronto, and Alexander von Humboldt grants to DRB; and, funding from the Institute of Human Origins, Arizona State University to JK.

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