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Description of two genera and species of late Eocene Anthropoidea from Egypt.

  • E L Simons
Publication Date
Dec 01, 1989


In 1987 and 1988 fossils of two previously unknown genera and species of Egyptian early Tertiary Anthropoidea were discovered in the Fayum Depression of Egypt. These are much older than all other Fayum, Oligocene primates and are believed to be Eocene in age. These genera, here named Catopithecus and Proteopithecus, come from a new Fayum site, L-41, and resemble Oligopithecus from the Jebel Qatrani Formation (lower sequence) at quarry E. They are here placed with the latter in a subfamily, Oligopithecinae, that is ranked in the Propliopithecidae. The level of L-41 is separated from quarry E by at least one major unconformity and 47 m of section. Only a maxilla of Proteopithecus is known. Its molars and premolars resemble those of later Fayum Propliopithecus and Aegyptopithecus and do not resemble those of Apidium and Parapithecus, all of which come from the Jebel Qatrani Formation, upper sequence. The type specimen of Catopithecus confirms a lower dental formula of 2-1-2-3, as in Catarrhini. These species appear to be the oldest primates undoubtedly related to humans. Their dental anatomy points to a derivation of Anthropoidea from Eocene adapids.


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