Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 58, Issue 31, pp 3771–3779 | Cite as

Juvenile hominoid cranium from the terminal Miocene of Yunnan, China

  • XuePing Ji
  • Nina G. Jablonski
  • Denise F. Su
  • ChengLong Deng
  • Lawrence J. Flynn
  • YouShan You
  • Jay KelleyEmail author
Open Access
Article Geology


Fossil apes are known from several late Miocene localities in Yunnan Province, southwestern China, principally from Shihuiba (Lufeng) and the Yuanmou Basin, and represent three species of Lufengpithecus. They mostly comprise large samples of isolated teeth, but there are also several partial or complete adult crania from Shihuiba and a single juvenile cranium from Yuanmou. Here we describe a new, relatively complete and largely undistorted juvenile cranium from the terminal Miocene locality of Shuitangba, also in Yunnan. It is only the second ape juvenile cranium recovered from the Miocene of Eurasia and it is provisionally assigned to the species present at Shihuiba, Lufengpithecus lufengensis. Lufengpithecus has most often been linked to the extant orangutan, Pongo pygmaeus, but recent studies of the crania from Shihuiba and Yuanmou have demonstrated that this is unlikely. The new cranium reinforces the view that Lufengpithecus represents a distinct, late surviving lineage of large apes in the late Miocene of East Asia that does not appear to be closely affiliated with any extant ape lineage. It substantially increases knowledge of cranial morphology in Lufengpithecus and demonstrates that species of this genus represent a morphologically diverse radiation of apes, which is consistent with the dynamic tectonic and biotic milieu of southwestern China in the late Miocene.


Miocene hominoid Lufengpithecus cranial morphology hominoid phylogeny fossil primates 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2013

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • XuePing Ji
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nina G. Jablonski
    • 3
  • Denise F. Su
    • 4
  • ChengLong Deng
    • 5
  • Lawrence J. Flynn
    • 6
  • YouShan You
    • 7
  • Jay Kelley
    • 8
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PaleoanthropologyYunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and ArchaeologyKunmingChina
  2. 2.Yunnan Key Laboratory for PaleobiologyYunnan UniversityKunmingChina
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Paleobotany and PaleoecologyCleveland Museum of Natural HistoryClevelandUSA
  5. 5.State Key Laboratory of Lithospheric Evolution, Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  6. 6.Peabody Museum of Archaeology and EthnologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  7. 7.Zhaotong Institute of Cultural RelicsZhaotongChina
  8. 8.Institute of Human Origins and School of Human Evolution and Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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