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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 East 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 hominin 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 way similar 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]