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Sexual dimorphism in early anthropoids

Naturevolume 287pages328330 (1980) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Sexual dimorphism in canine/premolar tooth size and in body size is found among many species of living primates and has been shown to be correlated with social organization. Among extant higher primate species that normally live in nuclear families consisting of a mated pair with their offspring, adult males and females are similar in body size and in the size of canine and anterior premolar teeth. In contrast, higher primate species living in more ‘complex’ polygynous groups (either single-male harems or multi-male groups) are characterized by sexual dimorphism in the size of canine/premolar teeth and frequently by body size dimorphism as well1–4. We provide here the first evidence for sexual dimorphism in three species of primates from the Oligocene of Egypt—Aegyptopiihecus zeuxis, Propliopithecus chirobates, and Apidium phiomense. This is the earliest record of sexual dimorphism among higher primates and suggests, by analogy with living species, that the earliest known fossil Old World anthropoids lived in polygynous (either single-male harems or multi-male groups) rather than monogamous social groups.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Anatomical Sciences, Health Sciences Center, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Long Island, New York, 11794

    • John G. Fleagle
  2. Department of Anatomy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, 27710

    • Richard F. Kay
  3. Duke University Center for the Study of Primate Biology and History, 3705 Erwin Road, Durham, North Carolina, 27705

    • Elwyn L. Simons

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https://doi.org/10.1038/287328a0

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