Classification and evolution of Asian colobines.

Y. Z. Peng, R. L. Pan, N. G. Jablonski

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28 Scopus citations


In order to study the differentiation of Asian colobines, 14 variables measured on 123 skulls, including Rhinopithecus, Presbytis, Presbytiscus (Rhinopithecus avunculus), Pygathrix and Nasalis were analyzed by one-way, cluster and discriminant function analyses. Information on paleoenvironmental changes in China and southeast Asia since the late Tertiary was used to examine the influences of migratory routes and range of distribution in Asian colobines. A cladogram for 6 genera of Asian colobines was constructed from the results of various analyses. Some new points or revisions were suggested: (1) Following one of two migratory routes, ancient species of Asian colobines perhaps passed through Xizang (Tibet) along the northern bank of the Tethys sea and through the Heng Duan Shan regions of Yunnan into Vietnam. An ancient landmass linking Yunnan and Xizang was already present on the east bank of the Tethys sea. Accordingly, Asian colobines would have two centers of evolutionary origin: Sundaland and the Heng Duan Shan regions of China. (2) Pygathrix shares more cranial features with Presbytiscus than with Rhinopithecus. This differs somewhat from the conclusion reached by Groves. (3) Nasalis (karyotype: 2n = 48) may be the most primitive genus among Asian colobines. Certain features shared with Rhinopithecus, e.g. large body size, terrestrial activity and limb proportions, can be interpreted as symplesiomorphic characters. (4) Rhinopithecus, with respect to craniofacial features, is a special case among Asian colobines. It combines a high degree of evolutionary specialization with retention of some primitive features thought to have been present in the ancestral Asian colobine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-117
Number of pages12
JournalFolia primatologica; international journal of primatology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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