The phylogenetic affinities of the primates of the late middle Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar have long been disputed. The discovery of the NMMP 39 talus (Marivaux et al.: Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100 (2003) 13173-13178) provided the first clear evidence from the postcranium that a relatively large-bodied haplorhine primate is represented in the Pondaung fauna. Another talus (NMMP 82; Marivaux et al., 2010). Talar morphology, phylogenetic affinities and locomotor adaptation of a large-bodied amphipithecid primate from the late middle Eocene of Myanmar, Am J Phys Anthropol DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21307) has been recently recovered which also pertains to Haplorhini. The metric and nonmetric features supporting the hypothesis of anthropoid affinities for NMMP 39 have been criticized by Gunnell and Ciochon (Gunnell GF, Ciochon RL. 2008. Revisiting primate postcrania from the Pondaung Formation of Myanmar. In: Fleagle JG, Gilbert CC, editors. Elwyn Simons: a search for origins. New York: Springer. p 211-228). Their analysis, however, was based on a very limited choice of variables, taxa, and individuals. Based on an extended sample, we are able to produce both principal components and discriminant functions that yield a rather clear separation of extant haplorhine and strepsirhine tali. Both principal components and discriminant function scores of the Pondaung tali fall with those of haplorhine primates. In addition, the Pondaung tali lack all the derived nonmetric features characteristic of strepsirhine primates, but exhibit all the features characteristic of haplorhine primates. We dispute the features Gunnell and Ciochon (2008) claim are uniquely shared by the Pondaung tali and adapiforms. Their rejection of the phylogenetic significance of the features shared by these tali and haplorhines is unwarranted by the evidence. Based on both metric and nonmetric features, the Pondaung tali are structurally most similar to the tali of haplorhines, particularly anthropoids.
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