Named By: Salvador Moya-Sola, Meike Kohler, David Martinez Alba, Isaac Casanovas-Vilar & Jordi Torres Galindo - 2004.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Primates.
Species: P. catalaunicus (type).
Size: Weight estimated between 30 - 35 kilograms. About 1 - 1.2 meters tall.
Known locations: Spain, Catalonia.
Time period: Serravallian of the Miocene.
Fossil representation: Partial skull and post cranial remains.
is one of the most important of the known prehistoric apes because it
is widely regarded as the ancestral form to not only today’s apes,
but also humans. To put this statement into its full context
however, Pierolapithecus was not necessarily
but in terms of physical features, it displays a transition from
more primitive primates to true apes. The appearance of
Pierolapithecus in what is now Spain during the
Serravallian stage of
the Miocene indicates when and where this transition was taking place,
though it is quite possible that other genera’s of similar apes were
also undergoing this change in other parts of the world.
Pierolapithecus displays body features suggesting that it was an arboreal ape, which means that it spent most of its time in the tree canopies of Miocene Western Europe. The wrists and shoulder blades offer larger degrees of motions than those known by more primitive forms. However, Pierolapithecus also seems to have been most comfortable in a more upright posture since the lower back is more rigid than earlier forms. This would have been one of the principal developments that would develop to allow humans to walk upright upon just two legs instead of pitching forward and supporting themselves with their arms and hands.
Pierolapithecus still has some primitive features however, such as the sloping of the face. There has also been speculation that because the face is more like the early development seen in gorillas and chimpanzees, Pierolapithecus might not be a form that is ancestral to orangutans. If correct, then this might mean that the split of orangutans from other types of apes appeared before the more defined development of modern ape forms.
- Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, a new Middle Miocene great ape from Spain, Salvador Moya-Sola, Meike Kohler, David Martinez Alba, Isaac Casanovas-Vilar & Jordi Torres Galindo - 2004.