|Mandible fragment of D. fontani from Saint-Gaudens, France (Middle Miocene, 11.5 mya); cast from Museum national d'histoire naturelle, Paris|
Dryopithecus was about 4 feet (1.2 m) long and more closely resembled a monkey than a modern ape. The structure of its limbs and wrists show that it walked in a way similar to modern chimpanzees but that it used the flat of its hands, like a monkey, rather than knuckle-walking like modern apes. Its face exhibited klinorhynchy, i.e. it was tilted downwards in profile.
Like Sivapithecus, Dryopithecus was suspensory, had a large brain and a delayed development, but, unlike the former, it had a gracile jaw with thinly enameled molars and suspensory forelimbs. The similarities and differences between them provide insight into the timing and palaeogeography of hominin origins and the phylogenetic divide between Asian and Afro-European great apes.
It likely spent most of its life in trees, and was probably not a brachiator because it did not have the skeletal adaptations. Its molars had relatively little enamel, suggesting that it ate soft leaves and fruit, an ideal diet for a tree-dwelling animal.
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