Phonetic: Ken/Keen-ya-pif-e-kus (Depending upon how you pronounce Kenya).
Named By: Louis Leakey - 1961.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Primates, Hominoidea, Hominidae.
Species: K. wickeri (type).
Known locations: Kenya.
Time period: Langhian of the Miocene.
Fossil representation: Many specimens, mostly of teeth and jaw fragments.
is especially noted amongst palaeoprimatologists for being one of the
first primates to develop thick tooth enamel. However the title for
oldest primate with thick tooth enamel now goes to Afropithecus.
thick enamel of the teeth points to a specialisation towards eating
tougher vegetation rather than the softer leaves and fruits that
earlier monkeys usually fed upon. This idea is also supported by the
presence of larger premolar teeth and the development of a much more
robust lower jaw. Kenyapithecus is also still
sometimes regarded as
being one of the earliest ancestors of the great apes.
There was once another species of Kenyapithecus called K. africanus, however the fossils that this species were described from were later moved over to Dryoptihecus and then later still over to Proconsul nyanzae.