Cercopithecine models as a contextual framework for human evolution

Russell Hill, Sarah Elton, Robin Dunbar, Andrea Cardini, Mandy Korstjens, Erik Willems, Anna-Ulla Jansson, 2007

Data copyright © Dr Sarah Elton unless otherwise stated

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Dr Sarah Elton
Hull York Medical School

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Russell Hill, Sarah Elton, Robin Dunbar, Andrea Cardini, Mandy Korstjens, Erik Willems, Anna-Ulla Jansson (2007) Cercopithecine models as a contextual framework for human evolution [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] (doi:10.5284/1000300)

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A major aim of this project was to compile a database of variation in modern African cercopithecine monkeys (baboons, mangabeys and guenons) to facilitate the construction of morphological and behavioural models for human evolution. Reconstruction of the evolutionary histories and palaeobiologies of extinct humans (hominins) requires comparative data from modern species, often primates. Although chimpanzees and gorillas are frequently used, Old World monkeys (particularly the cercopithecines) are also appropriate comparators (see Elton, 2006). One key element of our study was to examine the intra and interspecific variation of African monkeys in relation to environmental and spatial factors. Understanding how modern primates vary in response to their environments might help to interpret the variation seen in the hominin fossil record.

The full database, which we intend to make fully accessible by 2009, includes behavioural, morphological, spatial and environmental data for most African cercopithecine species, as well as some Asian species and colobines. The dataset available here represents the first stage of our work, comprising a subset of morphological and spatial data from one cercopithecine tribe, the Cercopithecini (guenons).

For more information on the applications of this work see:

  • Cardini, A., Jansson, A-U & Elton, S. (2007). A geometric morphometric approach to the study of ecogeographic and clinal variation in vervet monkeys. Journal of Biogeography. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2007.01731.x.
  • Elton, S. (2006) 40 years on and still going strong: the use of the hominin-cercopithecid comparison in human evolution. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 12:19-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9655.2006.00279.x.