Oldest known cranium of a juvenile New World monkey (Early Miocene, Patagonia, Argentina): implications for the taxonomy and the molar eruption pattern of early platyrrhines.
A juvenile cranium of Homunculus patagonicus Ameghino, 1891a from the late Early Miocene of Santa Cruz Province (Argentina) provides the first evidence of developing cranial anatomy for any fossil platyrrhine. The specimen preserves the rostral part of the cranium with deciduous and permanent alveoli and teeth. The dental eruption sequence in the new specimen and a reassessment of eruption patterns in living and fossil platyrrhines suggest that the ancestral platyrrhine pattern of tooth replacement was for the permanent incisors to erupt before M(1), not an accelerated molar eruption (before the incisors) as recently proposed. Two genera and species of Santacrucian monkeys are now generally recognized: H. patagonicus Ameghino, 1891a and Killikaike blakei Tejedor et al., 2006. Taxonomic allocation of Santacrucian monkeys to these species encounters two obstacles: 1) the (now lost) holotype and a recently proposed neotype of H. patagonicus are mandibles from different localities and different geologic members of the Santa Cruz Formation, separated by approximately 0.7 million years, whereas the holotype of K. blakei is a rostral part of a cranium without a mandible; 2) no Santacrucian monkey with associated cranium and mandible has ever been found. Bearing in mind these uncertainties, our examination of the new specimen as well as other cranial specimens of Santacrucian monkeys establishes the overall dental and cranial similarity between the holotype of Killikaike blakei, adult cranial material previously referred to H. patagonicus, and the new juvenile specimen. This leads us to conclude that Killikaike blakei is a junior subjective synonym of H. patagonicus.
Perry, JMG; Kay, RF; Vizcaíno, SF; Bargo, MS
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