Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments

, Volume 96, Issue 3, pp 373–381 | Cite as

The first hominoid from the Maragheh Formation, Iran

  • Gen SuwaEmail author
  • Yutaka Kunimatsu
  • Majid Mirzaie Ataabadi
  • Zahra Orak
  • Tomohiko Sasaki
  • Mikael Fortelius
Original Paper


Miocene hominoid fossils are known from Africa and Eurasia, in the latter ranging widely from western Europe to Anatolia and from South Asia to Southeast/East Asia. Iran is located between the known western and eastern Eurasian hominoid distributions and is potentially important in understanding Miocene hominoid dispersal patterns. Maragheh is a late Miocene fossil locality in northwestern Iran, well known since the nineteenth century for its abundant mammalian fossils. However, until now, the only primate fossils reported from Maragheh or Iran were the Old World monkey Mesopithecus pentelicus. Recent field research at Maragheh has changed this situation by the discovery of the first hominoid fossil from Iran, a maxillary fragment with well-preserved second and third molars. Here, we provide a detailed description of this new specimen, comparing it with other similarly large-sized Eurasian late Miocene hominoids, Ouranopithecus, Ankarapithecus, Sivapithecus, and Indopithecus. Molar morphology of the Maragheh hominoid is similar to that of these Eurasian Miocene genera, with only minor differences in morphology and wear pattern. Based on the presently available materials, we tentatively prefer the interpretation that the Maragheh hominoid may be related more closely to either Ankarapithecus or Sivapithecus rather than to Ouranopithecus, but the fragmentary nature of the fossil makes evaluations difficult. Future discoveries of this Iranian hominoid are needed to determine its phylogenetic position with more certainty.


Late Miocene Large hominoid Eurasia Maragheh 



The Department of Environment (environment protection organisation) of the Government of Iran permitted and facilitated this study. We would like to express our gratitude to the former and present heads of the “natural environment division” of this organisation as well as those of the “office of natural history museum, biodiversity and genetic resources” for their support. We also appreciate assistance by the Maragheh governor, mayor, city council, and the DOE office and the members of the INSPE (International Sahand Paleoenvironmental Expedition) team and participants of the field workshops held in Maragheh during 2007–2009. We appreciate the efforts by Z. Pourabrishami (University of Tabriz) in the early preservation of the fossil studied here. We thank G. Koufos for the kind access to the Ouranopithecus macedoniensis fossils at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, E. Güleç for the casts of the O. turkae maxilla, and T. White for the casts of Ankarapithecus meteai and Sivapithecus spp. at the Human Evolution Research Center, the University of California, Berkeley. We express our gratitude to Dr. Hossein Hessari and Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry, for facilitating the CBCT scanning of the hominoid specimen (shown in Fig. 1). We thank the two anonymous reviewers for the valuable comments. GS was primarily supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Kakenhi grant number 24000015). MMA, MF, and the field work in Maragheh were partially supported by the Academy of Finland, RHOI Initiative (NSF-HOMINID-BCS-0321893), and the Sasakawa Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gen Suwa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yutaka Kunimatsu
    • 2
  • Majid Mirzaie Ataabadi
    • 3
  • Zahra Orak
    • 4
  • Tomohiko Sasaki
    • 1
  • Mikael Fortelius
    • 5
  1. 1.The University MuseumThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Ryukoku UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Geology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of ZanjanZanjanIran
  4. 4.National Museum of Natural History (MMTT)Department of EnvironmentTehranIran
  5. 5.Department of Earth Sciences and GeographyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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