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Temporal range: 12–9 Ma
Dryopithecus fontani mio med francia.JPG
Mandible fragment of Dryopithecus fontani from Saint-Gaudens, France (Middle Miocene, 11,5 My) ; cast from Museum national d'histoire naturelle, Paris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Superfamily: Hominoidea
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: Homininae
Tribe: Dryopithecini
Genus: Dryopithecus
Lartet, 1856

Dryopithecus was a genus of apes that is known from Eastern Africa into Eurasia during the late Miocene period. The first species of Dryopithecus was discovered at the site of Saint-Gaudens, Haute-Garonne, France, in 1856.[1] Other dryopithecids have been found in Hungary,[2] Spain,[3] and China.[4]

Like Sivapithecus, Dryopithecus was suspensory, had a large brain, and a delayed development, but, unlike the former, it had a gracile jaw with thinly enameled molars and suspensory forelimbs; Begun 2004 notes that the similarities and differences between them provides insight into the timing and paleogeography of hominid origins and the phylogenetic divide between Asian and Afro-European great apes. [5]


Dryopithecus was about 4 feet long, and more closely resembled a monkey than a modern ape. The structure of its limbs and wrists show that it walked in a similar way to modern chimpanzees, but that it used the flat of its hands, like a monkey, rather than knuckle-walking, like modern apes.[6] Its face exhibited klinorhynchy, i.e. it was tilted downwards in profile.

It likely spent most of its life in trees, and was probably a brachiator, similar to modern orangutans and gibbons. Its molars had relatively little enamel, suggesting that it ate soft leaves and fruit, an ideal food for a tree-dwelling animal.[6]

The five-cusp and juvenile[7] fissure pattern of its molar teeth, known as the Y-5 arrangement, is typical of the dryopithecids and of hominoids in general.

Additional images[edit]

Dryopithecus fontani jaw in front view at the Geological Museum, Copenhagen 
Jaw of Dryopithecus fontani 
Stamps of Uzbekistan, 2002, of Dryopithecus maior 

See also[edit]



External links[edit]