The Taxonomy and Phylogenetic Relationships of Sivapithecus Revisited

  • Steve Ward
Part of the Advances in Primatology book series (AIPR)


Sivapithecus was resident in South Asia for over 5 million years. Its first appearance (ca. 12.7 Ma) and its last occurrence (ca. 6.8 Ma) in Siwalik sediments are likely to have coincided with global climatic and tectonic/eustatic events. Based on all available material, mostly limited to teeth, it appears that Sivapithecus experienced little significant anatomical change throughout this long period of time, nor is there evidence that the genus was extensively speciose. We do know that it was not a very common taxon in the Siwaliks. Assuming limited taphonomic bias in collecting, the genus probably never represented more than 1% of the overall mammalian community. For these reasons, the taxonomic status of Sivapithecus is still very much an open question, and we still have a rather limited understanding of the functional biology of its masticatory and locomotor systems. However, important new specimens attributable to Sivapithecus have been recovered over the last several years from Pakistan, and these new fossils, in conjunction with intensive pro-grams of magnetostratigraphic and sedimentological correlation have done much to narrow the focus on discussion. Nevertheless, neither the fossils nor the contextual data have brought consensus to the question of the relation ships of Sivapithecus to other Miocene large hominoid taxa outside of South Asia, or to the living great apes and humans. It is my intention here to evaluate the placement of Sivapithecus within the Hominoidea using all available fossil material, including some new specimens not yet formally described.


Maxillary Sinus Late Miocene Nasal Bone Maxillary Incisor Facial Height 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steve Ward
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyNortheastern Ohio Universities College of MedicineRootstownUSA

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