Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Locomotor behavior of Paradolichopithecus arvernensis as inferred from the functional morphology of its ankle and elbow

Taking all ankle and elbow elements of Paradolichopithecus into account, the picture emerges of a highly terrestrial monkey. This is not surprising as many fossil cercopithecines are found in open country habitats and show terrestrial adaptations, such as Dinopithecus (Late Pliocene, Africa), Procynocephalus (Late Pliocene, China and India), Paradolichopithecus (Pliocene, Spain and Asia), Theropithecus (Middle Pleistocene - Holocene, Africa) and, among the colobines, Paracolobus (Pliocene, East Africa) and Dolichopithecus (Pliocene, Europa) (Szalay & Delson, 1979). In addition, the larger species tend to be terrestrial, possibly as a response to predator pressure. This, too, makes a terrestrial adaptation of our large Paradolichopithecus very probable.
Body weight was carried more posterior, as the architecture of the olecranon and the trochlear notch are less apted for sustaining heavy load than is the case in the extant baboons. The morphology of the arm indicates an increased mobility in the elbow joint, with a departure from the sagittal plane during flexion. Paradolichopithecus could very well have used his strong arms for carrying food while walking or standing. Another option is the use of the arms in fights and defense.
The massive medial malleolus of the tibia also shows that a larger (part of the) body weight was carried on the hindlimbs. The suspensory facet for the fibular malleolus indicates an increased importance of the lateral malleolus in transferring body weight, and an increased fixation of the talus in the malleolar fork, formed by both the malleoli together.
As to the ankle joint, a remarkable parallel is seen with Australopithecus. Unique features that distinguish Paradolichopithecus, and probably also Procynocephalus, from the other papionins are seen also in Australopithecus, though the overall architecture of the Paradolichopithecus talus is typically cercopithecoid (pronounced lateral trochlear ridge, hardly developed groove for large toe flexor), whereas it is typically hominoid for Australopithecus (symmetrical trochlea, pronounced large toe flexor).The terrestrial traits in the postcranial elements show that this large monkey was clearly adapted to the habitat: an open savanna/bushland environment with seasonal availability of food, and large distances between the food sources.

Read more in SONDAAR P.Y., VAN DER GEER A.A.E., DERMITZAKIS M. (2006). The unique postcranial of the Old World monkey Paradolichopithecus: more similar to Australopithecus than to baboons. Hellenic Journal of Geosciences 41, 1: 19-28. Special volume in the memory of P.Y. Sondaar

and in VAN DER GEER A.A.E., SONDAAR P.Y. (2002). The postcranial elements of Paradolichopithecus arvernensis (Primates, Cercopithecidae, Papionini) from Lesvos, Greece. Annales Géologiques des Pays Helléniques 1e Série 39, A: 71-86. Free pdf at .

and in SONDAAR P.Y., VAN DER GEER A.A.E. (2002). Arboreal and terrestrial traits as revealed by the primate ankle joint. Annales Géologiques des Pays Helléniques 1e Série 39, A: 87-98. Free pdf at .

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