First skull of Antillothrix bernensis, an extinct relict monkey from the Dominican Republic
Authors:Alfred L. Rosenberger
Siobhán B. Cooke
The nearly pristine remains of Antillothrix bernensis, a capuchin-sized (Cebus) extinct platyrrhine from the Dominican Republic, have been found submerged in an underwater cave. This represents the first specimen of an extinct Caribbean primate with diagnostic craniodental and skeletal parts in association, only the second example of a skull from the region, and one of the most complete specimens of a fossil platyrrhine cranium yet discovered. Cranially, it closely resembles living cebines but is more conservative. Dentally, it is less bunodont and more primitive than Cebus, with crowns resembling Saimiri (squirrel monkeys) and one of the oldest definitive cebines, the late Early Miocene Killikaike blakei from Argentina. The tricuspid second molar also resembles the enigmatic marmosets and tamarins, whose origins continue to present a major gap in knowledge of primate evolution. While the femur is oddly short and stout, the ulna, though more robust, compares well with Cebus. As a member of the cebid clade, Antillothrix demonstrates that insular Caribbean monkeys are not monophyletically related and may not be the product of a single colonizing event. Antillothrix bernensis is an intriguing mosaic whose primitive characters are consistent with an early origin, possibly antedating the assembly of the modern primate fauna in greater Amazonia during the La Venta horizon. While most Greater Antillean primate specimens are quite young geologically, this vanished radiation, known from Cuba (Paralouatta) and Jamaica (Xenothrix) as well as Hispaniola, appears to be composed of long-lived lineages like several other mainland clades.
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