The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

A comparison of dental eruption patterns and their possible life history implications in two sympatric fossil catarrhines from Rudabánya, Hungary


Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

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Rudapithecus hungaricus, a stem hominine, and Anapithecus hernyaki, a stem catarrhine, are both known from the late Miocene locality of Rudabánya, in northern central Hungary. Fossils of both taxa are found in close proximity, providing strong evidence of sympatry. Both taxa were arboreal, at least partly suspensory, frugivorous and possibly overlapping in body mass. Though there are differences in the details of diet and positional behavior, it is interesting to examine other possible distinctions that may have allowed them to inhabit the same forest at the same time. One specimen of a juvenile Rudapithecus with a nearly complete dentition is known (RUD 14 + 11 & 70). Several specimens of juvenile Anapithecus are also known.

Anapithecus experienced extremely rapid development and eruption of the dentition, possibly including loss of the deciduous incisors before birth (Nargolwalla et al., 2005). More complete individuals have fully formed crowns and roots of most of the teeth, as in some prosimians. In contrast, RUD 14 shows a modern catarrhine pattern of dental eruption. Canine eruption is delayed (crypts are preserved) and the M3 is not crown complete, while the premolars and M2 are just entering into occlusion. This pattern distinguishes Rudapithecus from Anapithecus and aligns the former with extant hominids. Life history differences are far more pronounced than other behavioral differences in distinguishing Rudapithecus and Anapithecus. It is possible that pliopithecoid-hominid sympatry in Eurasia provided selection for the delayed life history strategies that characterize extant hominids.

Support for this research comes from grants from NSERC, the National Geographic Society, the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung and the University of Toronto

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