Overview

Brief Summary

Hominidae refers to the family that includes the great apes and humans.  There are seven extant species in four genera: orangutans (2 species in genus Pongo), gorillas (2 species in genus Gorilla), chimpanzees (2 species in genus Pan) and humans (genus Homo).  All members are relatively large compared to other primate species, and have long arms, short legs and no tail, and all but the orangutans live mostly on the ground.  The Hominidae is thought to have diverged from the gibbons (the lesser apes, family Hylobatidae) about 15-20 million years ago.

Before our present understanding of great ape relationships, humans were separated out in their own family, Hominidae, and the other great apes (orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees) made up a separate family, the Pongidae.  Over the years between the 1960-1990, especially once immunological and molecular methods were employed to investigate great ape phylogeny, the taxonomy was revised to reflect the understanding that chimpanzees are the sister taxon to humans.  These methods also resolved Gorilla as the closest relative to the Homo-Pan clade, with three genera together composing the Homininae.  The now-paraphyletic term Pongidae is no longer used; however, as a relic of the initial classification separating non-human great apes, humans and their extinct bipedal relatives are still often (confusingly) referred to as hominids. 

(Goodman et al. 1990; Wikipedia 2014)

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Physical Description

Morphology

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Reproduction

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:18280
Specimens with Sequences:29023
Specimens with Barcodes:18128
Species:13
Species With Barcodes:13
Public Records:17834
Public Species:13
Public BINs:7
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Barcode data

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Wikipedia

Pongid

Not to be confused with Ponginae

Pongid refers to members of the obsolete taxon Pongidae. They are sometimes called great apes.[1] Pongidae is now known to be paraphyletic. Pongids gave rise to hominins around seven mya.[2] The corresponding crown group for this taxon is Hominidae. Pongidae has 6 extant member species. This taxon is rarely used today but is of historical significance.

Distinction to hominins[edit]

PongidsHumans[notes 1]
Mode of locomotionKnuckle walking, arborealBipedalism
Location of foramen magnumBack of the skullUnder the skull
Average brain capacity400 cc1700 cc
Skull (viewed from top)pear-shapedovoid
Widest part of skull viewed from behindParietal regionBase of the skull(near the auditory region)
PalateRectangularParabolic
Body GrowthFastSlow
PhalangesCurvedStraight

Skull[edit]

The pongid skull contains the following features that are absent or less pronounced in humans:

Adaptations for locomotion[edit]

The following adaptations are for arboreal and knuckle walking locomotion and are not found in humans:

PongidHuman
Arms are as long as or longer than the legsArms are shorter than the legs
Scapula has an orientation for supporting the body weight beneath the armsScapula is oriented for holding the arms by the side
Digits are long and curved for grasping branchesDigits are shorter and straight
Pelvis is shaped to support the legs and trunk in the bent-over posturePelvis is shaped to support the legs and trunk in a vertical position
Knees do not lock the legsKnees lock the legs straight to minimize the expenditure of energy when standing
Pelvis is relatively largePelvis is much shorter and bowl-shaped
Iliac pillar is elongatedThe iliac crest is oriented more to the side and slanted

Similarity to hominins[edit]

The australopithecines show intermediate character states between pongids and humans, with Pithecanthropus intermediate between australopithecines and humans. Members of the genus Homo share many key features with anatomically modern man.

See also[edit]

History of hominoid taxonomy

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pongid definition". 
  2. ^ Cordain, Loren (2007). "Implications of Plio-pleistocene diets for modern humans". In Peter S. Ungar. Evolution of the human diet: the known, the unknown and the unknowable. pp. 264–5. ""Since the evolutionary split between hominins and pongids approximately 7 million years ago, the available evidence shows that all species of hominins ate an omnivorous diet composed of minimally processed, wild-plant, and animal foods." 
  1. ^ Humans are the only extant hominins.
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