Proconsul (primate)

Proconsul (Primate)

Proconsul (primate)

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Proconsul is an extinct genus of primates that existed from 23 to 5 million years ago during the Early Miocene epoch. Fossil remains are present in Eastern Africa including Kenya and Uganda. Four species have been classified to date: P. africanus, P. heseloni, P. major and P. nyanzae. The four species differ mainly in body size. Environmental reconstructions for the Early Miocene Proconsul sites are still tentative and range from forested environments to more open, arid grasslands.

They had a mixture of Old World monkey and ape characteristics, so their placement in the ape superfamily Hominoidea is tentative; some scientists place Proconsul outside of Hominoidea, before the split of the apes and Old World monkeys.

Proconsul's monkey-like features include pronograde postures, indicated by a long flexible back, curved metacarpals, and an above-branch arboreal quadrupedal positional repertoire. The primary feature linking Proconsul with extant apes is its lack of a tail; other "ape-like" features include its enhanced grasping capabilities, stabilized elbow joint and facial structure. Proconsul was definitely not suspensory like modern apes.

Discovery and classification

The first specimen, a partial jaw discovered in 1909 by a gold prospector at Koru, near Kisumu in western Kenya, was also the oldest fossil hominoid known until recently, and the first fossil mammal ever found in sub-Saharan Africa. The name, Proconsul, was devised by Arthur Hopwood in...
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