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Changes in the composition of the Pleistocene primate fauna in southern China

Masanaru Takai, Yingqi Zhang, Reiko T. Kono, Changzhu Jin

In this paper we examine the change in the composition of the Pleistocene primate fauna in southern China based on about 3600 fossil teeth collected from 14 cave sites in Chongzuo area, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Although it is often difficult to identify the taxonomic position of isolated Pleistocene primate teeth, nine genera were provisionally identified: Homo, Gigantopithecus, Pongo and Nomascus (Hominoidea), Procynocephalus, Macaca, Rhinopithecus, Pygathrix, and Trachypithecus (Cercopithecoidea). Among these genera, all but Gigantopithecus and Procynocephalus are extant, some of which are not presently distributed in Chongzuo and its neighboring area. More than half of the primate specimens belong to Macaca, which probably includes three to five species, while other genera likely consist of single species. There is a possibility that some of the early macaque species may have been replaced by later members of the genus. All primate genera make their first appearance in the Early Pleistocene, seven of which likely survived until the Holocene in Chongzuo. The extinctions of Procynocephalus and Gigantopithecus are probably due to different factors. The former was likely adapted to cooler and drier environments, and distributed mainly in the area of relatively high latitude. The Early Pleistocene fossil record at Chongzuo is its southernmost occurrence and it may be the youngest record in eastern Eurasia. The latter was a common taxon during the Early Pleistocene, but it disappeared in the early Late Pleistocene. This was probably due to vegetational change, including the loss of their preferred diet, such as bamboo.

Quaternary International (2014),http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2014.02.021



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