Hallucial tarsometatarsal joint in an Oligocene anthropoid Aegyptopithecus zeuxis

Abstract

SINCE the grasping hallux is such a significant characteristic of the order Primates, its evolutionary history is of some importance to palaeoprimatologists. Although the origin and development of the grasping hallux in primates is usually hailed as a major “evolutionary event”, very little factual data from the palaeontological record can be brought to bear in documenting this feature throughout primate evolution1. Two fossil primates in which an hallucial metatarsal is known are Notharctus (an Eocene pro-simian) and Dryopithecus africanas (a Miocene hominoid); hence the specimen discussed here is the earliest document of hallucial morphology in the anthropoids2,3.

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