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

Dental macro- and micromorphology of a new pitheciid primate from the Miocene of Patagonia


1Centro Nacional Patagónico, CONICET, Puerto Madryn, Argentina, 2Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, Sede Esquel Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia "San Juan Bosco", Esquel, Argentina, 3Department of Physical Therapy and Human Performance, Florida Gulf Coast University, 4Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, Brooklyn College, CUNY, 5New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, (NYCEP)

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We report a new primate genus from Cerro de los Monos, of the early Miocene Pinturas Formation in central-western Patagonia, Argentina. Pinturas primates deserve attention because they are the most diverse assemblage known from Patagonia. Prior to this report, four species from Pinturas have been named: Soriacebus ameghinorum, S. adrianae, Carlocebus carmenensis, and C. intermedius.

The most complete specimen of the new primate is a palate containing the left I2, P4-M1, M3, roots of the left M2, and of the right P4-M3. More than a dozen referred dental specimens exist. Molars and premolars are bunodont, with low occlusal relief. Upper molars are transversely broad and rectangular with large, rounded hypocones. Lower molars are buccolingually broad, with trigonids that are broad and taller than the talonids. The cristid obliquid is relatively short in the lower molars. Cusps, crests and crown sidewalls are smooth and rounded, with shallow basins. The mandible is robust at the symphysis, and near the alveolar surface. SEM analysis of enamel microstructure reveals a radial pattern as in Callicebus, contrasting the highly decussating enamel of pitheciines. It suggests that molars in the new taxon were not used to process mechanically demanding foodstuffs.

This morphology is also similar to Carlocebus and Homunculus, supporting a link to Homunculinae (including Callicebus). However, the new taxon is somewhat larger and more bunodont. Since there are at least three Miocene homunculine genera in Santa Cruz, this reinforces the idea of an unexpectedly high diversity of the pitheciid radiation in extra-Amazonian, Neogene South America.

This project was funded by an L.S.B. Leakey Foundation grant (MFT) and NSF grant BCS-0622479 (RTH).

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