Functional morphology and anatomy of cervical vertebrae in Nacholapithecus kerioi, a middle Miocene hominoid from Kenya

Yasuhiro Kikuchi, Yoshihiko Nakano, Masato Nakatsukasa, Yutaka Kunimatsu, Daisuke Shimizu, Naomichi Ogihara, Hiroshi Tsujikawa, Tomo Takano, Hidemi Ishida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper describes the morphology of cervical vertebrae in . Nacholapithecus kerioi, a middle Miocene primate species excavated from Nachola, Kenya in 1999-2002. The cervical vertebrae in . Nacholapithecus are larger than those of . Papio cynocephalus. They are more robust relative to more caudal vertebral bones. Since . Nacholapithecus had large forelimbs, it is assumed that strong cervical vertebrae would have been required to resist muscle reaction forces during locomotion. On the other hand, the vertebral foramen of the lower cervical vertebrae in . Nacholapithecus is almost the same size as or smaller than that of . P. cynocephalus. Atlas specimens of . Nacholapithecus resemble those of extant great apes with regard to the superior articular facet, and they have an anterior tubercle trait intermediate between that of extant apes and other primate species. Nacholapithecus has a relatively short and thick dens on the axis, similar to those of extant great apes and the axis body shape is intermediate between that of extant apes and other primates. Moreover, an intermediate trait between extant great apes and other primate species has been indicated with regard to the angle between the prezygapophyseal articular facets of the axis in . Nacholapithecus. Although the atlas of . Nacholapithecus is inferred as having a primitive morphology (i.e., possessing a lateral bridge), the shape of the atlas and axis leads to speculation that locomotion or posture in . Nacholapithecus involved more orthograde behavior similar to that of extant apes, and, in so far as cervical vertebral morphology is concerned, it is thought that . Nacholapithecus was incipiently specialized toward the characteristics of extant hominoids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-695
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Volume62
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jun

Keywords

  • Africa
  • Atlas
  • Axis
  • Hominoidea
  • Miocene
  • Orthograde

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology

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