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Temporal range: 12–9 Ma
Dryopithecus fontani mio med francia.JPG
Mandible fragment of D. 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 wuduensis Xue and Delson, 1988
  • Dryopithecus fontani Lartet, 1856 (type species)

Dryopithecus was a genus of apes that is known from Eurasia during the late Miocene period.


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 way similar to modern chimpanzees but that it used the flat of its hands, like a monkey, rather than knuckle-walking like modern apes.[1] Its face exhibited klinorhynchy, i.e. it was tilted downwards in profile.


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. The similarities and differences between them provide insight into the timing and paleogeography of hominin origins and the phylogenetic divide between Asian and Afro-European great apes.[2]

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 diet for a tree-dwelling animal.[1]

The five-cusp and juvenile[3] 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 D. fontani 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Palmer 1999
  2. ^ Begun 2004, Abstract, Conclusions
  3. ^ Simons & Meinel 1983


External links[edit]