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Fossil Alouattines and the Origins of Alouatta: Craniodental Diversity and Interrelationships

  • Alfred L. Rosenberger
  • Siobhán B. Cooke
  • Lauren B. Halenar
  • Marcelo F. TejedorEmail author
  • Walter C. Hartwig
  • Nelson M. Novo
  • Yaneth Muñoz-Saba
Chapter
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)

Abstract

The howler monkey clade includes species of Alouatta and four extinct genera, Stirtonia, Paralouatta, Protopithecus, and probably Solimoea as well. Contrary to expectations, this radiation may have originated as a largely frugivorous group; advanced, Alouatta-like leaf-eating is a novelty well-developed in the Alouatta-Stirtonia sublineage only. Revised body mass estimates place Stirtonia and Paralouatta within the size range exhibited by the living forms and confirm the place of Protopithecus in a larger, baboon-like size range. While their dentitions are more primitive than the Alouatta-Stirtonia pattern, the cranial anatomy of Protopithecus and Paralouatta is distinctly similar to living howler monkeys in highly derived features relating to enlargement of the subbasal space in the neck and in head carriage, suggesting that ancestral alouattines may have had an enlarged hyolaryngeal apparatus. All alouattines also have relatively small brains, including Protopithecus, a genus that was probably quite frugivorous. The successful origins of the alouattine clade may owe more to key adaptations involving communication and energetics than dental or locomotor breakthroughs. While the fossil record confirms aspects of previous character-analysis reconstructions based on the living forms, alouattines experienced a complexity of adaptive shifts whose history cannot be recoverable without a more complete fossil record.*

Keywords

Fossil primates Howler monkeys Craniodental morphology Adaptation Phylogeny 

Abbreviations

%

Percent

CT

Computed Tomography

e.g.

For example

Fig.

Figure

Figs.

Figures

i.e.

In other words

kg

Kilograms

m1

First lower molar

m3

Third lower molar

M1

First upper molar

MA

Millions of years

mm

Millimeters

NWM

New World monkeys

P3

Third upper premolar

p4

Fourth lower premolar

P4

Fourth upper premolar

Resumen

El clado de los monos aulladores incluye las especies de Alouatta y cuatro géneros extintos, Stirtonia, Paralouatta, Protopithecus y probablemente Solimoea. Contrario a las expectativas, esta radiación pudo haberse originado a partir de hábitos frugívoros. La avanzada folivoría de Alouatta es una novedad desarrollada solamente en el sublinaje de Alouatta-Stirtonia. Las estimaciones de masa corporal ubican a Stirtonia y Paralouatta dentro del rango que exhiben las formas vivientes y confirman la posición de Protopithecus en un rango de tamaño mayor, similar al de los babuinos africanos. Considerando que la dentición es más primitiva que el patrón observado en Alouatta-Stirtonia, la anatomía craneana de Protopithecus y Paralouatta es similar a la de los aulladores vivientes debido a los rasgos altamente especializados relacionados al agrandamiento del espacio sub-basal en el cuello, así como en la posición de la cabeza, sugiriendo que los alouatinos ancestrales pudieron haber tenido un gran aparato hiolaríngeo. Todos los alouatinos también presentan un cerebro pequeño, incluyendo Protopithecus, género que probablemente haya sido frugívoro. El origen exitoso del clado de los alouatinos pudo deberse más a adaptaciones de comunicación y energéticas que a cambios dentarios o locomotores. Mientras que el registro fósil confirma ciertos aspectos de análisis de caracteres previos basados en formas vivientes, los alouatinos experimentaron una complejidad de adaptaciones cuya historia no podría reconstruirse sin el registro fósil.*

* Since this chapter was written, additional study by Halenar and Rosenberger (2013) of the material discussed here as Protopithecus led to the conclusion that the two samples actually represent two different genera. The essentially complete Bahian skeleton, which forms the basis of the present discussion, is being assigned to a new genus and species, Cartelles coimbrafilhoi, within subfamily Alouattinae. The original Lund material from Minas Gerais bears the original name Protopithecus, but its affinities are more likely to be found among atelines than alouattines.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We owe much to many: to the editors of this volume for inviting us to contribute; to the museums mentioned above that make our research possible, especially our home institution, the American Museum of Natural History; to Leandro Salles and Castor Cartelle and their museums, MNRJ and PUC MINAS, for making this project possible; to Marilyn Norconk for sharing her insights on platyrrhines; to Andi Jones and Mike Rose for discussions on the Brazilian fossils and use of their photographs; to the agencies at Brooklyn College (Tow) and the City University of New York (PSC CUNY) for financial assistance to ALR; to the Wenner-Gren Foundation and CUNY NYCEP for a postdoctoral fellowship awarded to MFT which helped support our collaboration; and to NSF DDIG awards to LBH (0925704) and SBC (0726134) and an Alumnae Association of Barnard College Graduate Fellowship to help support SBC in her research on Caribbean primates. We thank the reviewers and editors for many helpful suggestions. The software package PAST was employed for several computations and charts (http://folk.uio.no/ohammer/past/).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfred L. Rosenberger
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Siobhán B. Cooke
    • 5
  • Lauren B. Halenar
    • 3
    • 6
  • Marcelo F. Tejedor
    • 7
    Email author
  • Walter C. Hartwig
    • 8
  • Nelson M. Novo
    • 7
  • Yaneth Muñoz-Saba
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and ArchaeologyBrooklyn College, The City University of New YorkBrooklynUSA
  2. 2.The Graduate Center, The City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP), The City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of MammalogyThe American Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Department of AnthropologyNortheastern Illinois UniversityChicagoUSA
  6. 6.Department of Biological Sciences, Bronx Community CollegeThe City University of New YorkBronxUSA
  7. 7.Centro Nacional Patagónico-CONICETPuerto MadrynArgentina
  8. 8.Department of Basic SciencesTouro University College of Osteopathic MedicineVallejoUSA
  9. 9.Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de ColombiaBogotáColombia

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