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The simians (infraorder Simiiformes) are monkeys, cladistically including the apes: the New World monkeys or platyrrhines, and the catarrhine clade consisting of the Old World monkeys and apes.

Temporal range: Middle Eocene-Holocene, 40–0 Ma
Old & New World monkey faces.JPG
A catarrhine (common chimpanzee) and a platyrrhine (red-faced spider monkey)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Haeckel, 1866[1][2]

The simian line and the tarsier line diverged about 60 million years ago (during the Cenozoic era). Forty million years ago, simians from Africa colonized South America, giving rise to the New World monkeys. The remaining simians (catarrhines) split 25 million years ago into apes and Old World monkeys.


Taxonomy and evolutionEdit

In earlier classification, New World monkeys, Old World monkeys, apes, and humans—collectively known as simians or anthropoids—were grouped under Anthropoidea (/ˌænθɹoˈpɔɪdiə/, Gr. άνθρωπος, anthropos, human, also called anthropoids), while the strepsirrhines and tarsiers were grouped under the suborder "Prosimii". Under modern classification, the tarsiers and simians are grouped under the suborder Haplorhini while the strepsirrhines are placed in suborder Strepsirrhini.[3] Strong genetic evidence for this is that five SINEs are common to all Haplorhines whilst absent in Strepsirrhines - even one being coincidental between tarsiers and simians would be quite unlikely.[4] Despite this preferred taxonomic division, prosimian is still regularly found in textbooks and the academic literature because of familiarity, a condition likened to the use of the metric system in the sciences and the use of customary units elsewhere in the United States.[5] In anthropoidea, evidences indicate that the Old and the New World primates went through parallel evolution.[6]

Primatology, paleoanthropology, and other related fields are split on their usage of the synonymous infraorder names, Simiiformes and Anthropoidea. According to Robert Hoffstetter (and supported by Colin Groves), the term Simiiformes has priority over Anthropoidea because of the taxonomic term Simii by van der Hoeven, from which it is constructed, dates to 1833.[1][7] In contrast, Anthropoidea by Mivart dates to 1864,[8] while Simiiformes by Haeckel dates to 1866, leading to counterclaims of priority.[1] Hoffstetter also argued that Simiiformes is also constructed like a proper infraorder name (ending in -iformes), whereas Anthropoidea ends in -oidea, which is reserved for superfamilies. He also noted that Anthropoidea is too easily confused with "anthropoïdes", which translates to "apes" from several languages.[7]

Extant simians are split into three distinct groups. The New World monkeys in parvorder Platyrrhini split from the rest of the simian line about 40 mya, leaving the parvorder Catarrhini occupying the Old World. This group split about 25 mya between the Old World monkeys and the apes.

There are also some lines of extinct simian, either placed into Eosimiidae (to reflect their Eocene origin) and sometimes in Amphipithecidae, thought to originate in the Early Oligocene. Additionally, Phileosimias is sometimes placed in the Eosimiidae and sometimes categorised separately.[9]


Phylogeny of living (extant) primates
Primates (80 Mya)
Haplorhini (63 Mya)
Simian (42.6 Mya)
Catarrhini (29.0 Mya)






Cladogram. For each clade, it is indicated approximately how many million of years ago (Mya) newer extant clades radiated.[citation needed]

The following is the listing of the various simian families, and their placement in the order Primates:[1][2]

Below is a cladogram with some of the extinct simian species.[10][11][12][13][14]. It is indicated approximately how many million years ago (Mya) the clades diverged into newer clades.

Haplorhini (64)


Simians (54)
Ekgmowechashalidae (39)

Muangthanhinius (†32 Mya)


Gatanthropus micros (†30)

Bugtilemur (†29)


Eosimiidae (50)

Eosimias (†40)

Phenocopethicus (†42)


Bahinia (†32)

Nosmips aenigmaticus (†37)

Phileosimias (†46)


Amphipithecidae (†35)


Proteopithecus sylviae (†34)

Parapithecoidea (†30)

Crown Simians (37)
Platyrrhini (30)

Chilecebus (†20)


Tremacebus (†20)


Homunculus (†16)

Dolichocebus (†20)


Branisella (†26)

Crown Platyrrhini (New World Monkeys)  


Key Biological FeaturesEdit

In a section of their 2010 assessment of the evolution of anthropoids (simians) entitled 'What Is An Anthropoid', Williams, Kay and Kirk set out a list of biological features that are common to all or most anthropoids, including genetic similarities, similarities in eye location and the muscles close to the eyes, internal similarities between ears, dental similarities, and similarities on foot bone structure.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Groves, C.P. (2005). "Simiiformes". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 128. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b Rylands AB & Mittermeier RA (2009). "The Diversity of the New World Primates (Platyrrhini)". In Garber PA, Estrada A, Bicca-Marques JC, Heymann EW & Strier KB. South American Primates: Comparative Perspectives in the Study of Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation. Springer. ISBN 978-0-387-78704-6. 
  3. ^ Cartmill, M.; Smith, F. H (2011). The Human Lineage. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-21145-8. 
  4. ^ Williams, Blythe A; Kay, Richard F; Kirk, E Christopher (January 2010). Walker, Alan, ed. "New perspectives on anthropoid origins". PNAS. 107 (11): 4797–4804. 
  5. ^ Hartwig, W. (2011). "Chapter 3: Primate evolution". In Campbell, C. J.; Fuentes, A.; MacKinnon, K. C.; Bearder, S. K.; Stumpf, R. M. Primates in Perspective (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 19–31. ISBN 978-0-19-539043-8. 
  6. ^ Lull, Richard Swann (1921). "77". Organic Evolution. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 641–677. 
  7. ^ a b Hoffstetter, R. (1974). "Phylogeny and geographical deployment of the Primates". Journal of Human Evolution. 3 (4): 327–350. doi:10.1016/0047-2484(74)90028-1. 
  8. ^ Tobias, P. V. (2002). "The evolution of early hominids". In Ingold, T. Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology: Humanity, Culture and Social Life. Taylor & Francis. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-415-28604-6. 
  9. ^ Marivaux; et al. (June 2005). "Anthropoid primates from the Oligocene of Pakistan (Bugti Hills): Data on early anthropoid evolution and biogeography". PNAS. 102 (24): 8436–41. doi:10.1073/pnas.0503469102. PMC 1150860 . PMID 15937103.  (Full text PDF)
  10. ^ Marivaux, Laurent; Antoine, Pierre-Olivier; Baqri, Syed Rafiqul Hassan; Benammi, Mouloud; Chaimanee, Yaowalak; Crochet, Jean-Yves; Franceschi, Dario de; Iqbal, Nayyer; Jaeger, Jean-Jacques (2005-06-14). "Anthropoid primates from the Oligocene of Pakistan (Bugti Hills): Data on early anthropoid evolution and biogeography". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 102 (24): 8436–8441. doi:10.1073/pnas.0503469102. ISSN 0027-8424. PMID 15937103. 
  11. ^ Seiffert, Erik R.; Boyer, Doug M.; Fleagle, John G.; Gunnell, Gregg F.; Heesy, Christopher P.; Perry, Jonathan M. G.; Sallam, Hesham M. (2017-04-10). "New adapiform primate fossils from the late Eocene of Egypt". Historical Biology. 0 (0): 1–23. doi:10.1080/08912963.2017.1306522. ISSN 0891-2963. 
  12. ^ Nengo, Isaiah; Tafforeau, Paul; Gilbert, Christopher C.; Fleagle, John G.; Miller, Ellen R.; Feibel, Craig; Fox, David L.; Feinberg, Josh; Pugh, Kelsey D. "New infant cranium from the African Miocene sheds light on ape evolution". Nature. 548 (7666): 169–174. doi:10.1038/nature23456. 
  13. ^ Ryan, Timothy M.; Silcox, Mary T.; Walker, Alan; Mao, Xianyun; Begun, David R.; Benefit, Brenda R.; Gingerich, Philip D.; Köhler, Meike; Kordos, László (2012-09-07). "Evolution of locomotion in Anthropoidea: the semicircular canal evidence". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences. 279 (1742): 3467–3475. doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.0939. ISSN 0962-8452. PMID 22696520. 
  14. ^ Yapuncich, Gabriel S.; Seiffert, Erik R.; Boyer, Doug M. (2017-06-01). "Quantification of the position and depth of the flexor hallucis longus groove in euarchontans, with implications for the evolution of primate positional behavior". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 163 (2): 367–406. doi:10.1002/ajpa.23213. ISSN 1096-8644. 

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