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MacLatchy, Laura Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- Age of Moroto
- Calibration of the ape–monkey split
- Evolution of adaptively significant locomotor features
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Morotopithecus bishopi is a fossil ape species from northeastern Uganda dated to be more than 20.6 million years old. The fossils of Morotopithecus suggest that it was capable of modern apelike behaviors, including use of vertical trunk postures (orthogrady), slow climbing, and arm hanging. Other fossil apes of similar age are known from East Africa. However, unlike Morotopithecus, these apes would have walked on the tops of branches on all fours with a horizontally oriented torso (pronogrady). Morotopithecus thus represents the oldest record of modern apelike locomotor behavior in the fossil record. Paleontologists are currently divided over whether the anatomical features associated with upright posture and suspension in the modern apes are due to inheritance or independent evolution. This debate has important implications for interpreting the evolutionary position of Morotopithecus and other fossil apes, as well as for reconstructing the pattern and timing of the emergence of modern ape adaptations.
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