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Print ISSN: 0031-0247
Online ISSN: 2274-0333
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The eosimiid and amphipithecid primates (Anthropoidea) from the Oligocene of the Bugti hills (Balochistan, Pakistan): new insight into early higher primate evolution in South Asia.
Laurent Marivaux
Keywords: Amphipithecidae; anthropoid phylogney; Bugti Hills; Early Oligocene; Eosimiidae; Pakistan

    Eosimiid and amphipithecid primates document a long and significant history of primate evolution throughout the Eocene in Southeast Asia. Despite the absence of a comprehensive post-Eocene fossil record, it was generally hypothesized that both families left no descendant in Asia. Recently, two new small-bodied taxa, Bugtipithecus and Phileosimias, have been recovered in early Oligocene coastal deposits from the Bugti Hills (Balochistan, central Pakistan) and referred to the families Amphipithecidae and Eosimiidae, respectively, on the basis of dental fossil remains. In this paper, we provide more exhaustive description, comparison, and discussion of these taxa. As for tarsiid and sivaladapid primates, the persistence of eosimiids and amphipithecids into the Oligocene clearly demonstrates that low latitudes of South Asia provided a continuous access to tropical refugia during the climatic deterioration characterizing the late Eocene-early Oligocene interval, which was seemingly lethal for primate communities elsewhere across the Holarctic continents. As a contribution to the ongoing phylogenetic debates regarding the position of eosimiids and amphipithecids on the primate family tree, we have performed a cladistic analysis in a high-level primate systematic context in order to assess the position and the role of these new taxa in that phylogenetic issue. Our results support the view according to which eosimiids and amphipithecids (and by extension Phileosimias and Bugtipithecus, respectively) are stem anthropoids. These fossils from Pakistan document an unsuspected Oligocene phase of the evolutionary history of anthropoid primates in southern Asia, which clearly enhances the extent of the anthropoid radiation in this province during the Paleogene. Several phylogenetic and paleobiogeographic aspects are discussed, notably the intra- and inter-relationships between Paleogene Asian and Afro-Arabian anthropoids, and the resulting potential dispersal models between both land-masses during the Paleogene. 

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Published in Vol. 34, Fasc. 1-2 (2006)