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Temporal range: Late Miocene - Pliocene
Pliopithecus antiquus.jpg
Mandible fragment of Pliopithecus antiquus from Sansan, France; cast from Museum national d'histoire naturelle, Paris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Superfamily: Pliopithecoidea
Family: Pliopithecidae
Subfamily: Pliopithecinae
Genus: Pliopithecus
Gervais, 1849
Pliopithecus antiquus jaw seen from above

Pliopithecus is a genus of extinct primates of the Miocene and Pliocene. It was discovered in 1837 by Édouard Lartet (1801–1871) in France, with fossils subsequently discovered in Switzerland, Slovakia and Spain.

Pliopithecus' had a similar size and form to modern gibbons, to which it may be related, although it is probably not a direct ancestor. It had long limbs, hands, and feet, and may have been able to brachiate, swinging between trees using its arms. Unlike gibbons, it had a short tail, and only partial stereoscopic vision.[1]#

They appear to have originated in Asia and extended their range into Europe between 17 and 13 million years ago.[2]

Begun and Harrison list the following species within the genus - Pliopithecus antiquus, Pliopithecus bii, Pliopithecus canmatensis, Pliopithecus platyodon, Pliopithecus vindobonensis, and Pliopithecus zhanxiangi.[2] Pliopithecus antiquus has been referred to previously as Pliopithecus piveteaui.[3]

vindobonensis is sometimes considered to be be a separate genus, Epipliopithecus.[4][2]

Anapithecus is a close relative and was initially considered a subgenus of Pliopithecus.


  1. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 291. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  2. ^ a b c Harrison, Terry (2012). "Chapter 20 Catarrhine Origins". In Begun, David. A Companion To Paleoanthropology. Wiley Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-118-33237-5. Archived from the original on 2013. 
  3. ^ "Pliopithecus antiquus Blainville 1839". Synonym: Pliopithecus piveteaui Hürzeler 1954 
  4. ^ Harrison, T; Gu, Y (1999). Taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of early Miocene catarrhines from Sihong, China. 

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