The phylogeny of Old World monkeys

Todd R. Disotell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The living Old World monkeys, family Cercopithecidae, are the most successful group of nonhuman primates alive today. Overall, they account for over one quarter of the extant genera of primates and approximately 40% of the species. They have an extensive fossil record extending back to the early and middle Miocene of Africa.1,2 Despite this specific diversity and a long evolutionary history, it is commonly argued that the group is relatively uniform in both its skeletal3 and dental4 anatomy, suggesting that much of the current taxonomic diversity is a relatively recent phenomenon. In such a speciose group, it is perhaps not surprising that the taxonomy of Old World monkeys is subject to many differing classifications. Thus, in recent years, authors have recognized as few as 10 and as many as 22 different genera within the family. Although some of this greater-than-two-fold difference in the number of genera can be attributed to the "splitting" versus "lumping" philosophies of different researchers, much of it is based on major disagreements over phylogenetic relationships. Recent studies of the genetics and chromosomes of this group have illuminated Old World monkey phylogeny in many ways. Some of these studies have resolved longstanding debates based on morphological data; others have revealed phylogenetic relationships that morphologists had never suspected.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)18-24
    Number of pages7
    JournalEvolutionary anthropology
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 1996


    • Cercopithecoidea
    • Molecular systematics
    • Phylogeny

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anthropology


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