New Perspectives on the Pitheciines
If the callitrichines were the first major group of platyrrhines to benefit scientifically from the explosion of interest in platyrrhine biology in the last two decades, the sakis and uakaris are the surprise discovery. They are the evolutionary secret of the New World monkey radiation, hidden until now by the lack of a sound framework for platyrrhine systematics, the absence of any glimmerings of a fossil record and sheer ignorance of their behavior and ecology. Much the same situation existed for callitrichines. For nearly a hundred years, scientists have debated one way or the other - Are the callithrichines primitive or are they derived? No such uncertainties were ever associated with “pitheciines”. Classifications dating to J.E. Gray and St. George Mivart in the middle 1800s show that taxono- mists even then treated the three modern genera, Pithecia, Chiropotes, and Cacajao as a divergent, natural group. In modern terms, this implies they are monophyletic, related more closely to one another than any are to living non-pitheciine platyrrhines. Until recently, this legacy was the upshot of“pitheciine” biology: sakis and uakaris are behaviorally enigmatic and structurally bizarre, but they are an evolutionary cohesive group.
KeywordsPeris Miocene Argentina Defend Peru
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