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Temporal range: Middle Eocene-Holocene, 40–0 Ma
Old & New World monkey faces.JPG
A catarrhine (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]

sister: Tarsiiformes


monkeys (cladistically incl. apes)

The simians or anthropoids or higher primates are an infraorder (Simiiformes) of primates containing the parvorders Platyrrhini and Catarrhini, which consists of the superfamilies Cercopithecoidea and Hominoidea (including the genus Homo).

The simians are sister to the tarsiers, together forming the haplorhines. The radiation occurred about 60 million years ago (during the Cenozoic era). 40 million years ago, simians from Afro-Arabia colonized South America, giving rise to the New World monkeys. The remaining simians (catarrhines) split 25 million years ago into Old World monkeys and apes (including humans).

Taxonomy and evolution[edit]

In earlier classification, New World and Old World monkeys, apes, and humans – collectively known as simians or anthropoids – were grouped under Anthropoidea (/ˌænθrəˈpɔɪdiə/; Ancient Greek: άνθρωπος, romanizedanthropos, lit. '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, evidence indicates that the Old World and 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 Cercopithecidae 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)
Simiiformes (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 with the more modern species emerging within the Eosimiidae. The Simians originated in Asia while the crown simians were in Afro-Arabia.[10][11][12][13][14] It is indicated approximately how many million years ago (Mya) the clades diverged into newer clades.

Haplorhini (64)

Tarsiiformes Säugethiere vom Celebes- und Philippinen-Archipel (Taf. III) (white background) (1).jpg

Simians (54)
Ekgmowechashalidae (39)

Muangthanhinius (†32 Mya)


Gatanthropus micros (†30)

Bugtilemur (†29)


Eosimiidae (52)
Eosimiidae s.s.(50)

Eosimias (†40)

Phenocopethicus (†42)


Bahinia [fr] (†32)

Nosmips aenigmaticus (†37)

Phileosimias (†46)


Amphipithecidae (†35)


Parapithecoidea (†30)


Proteopithecidae (†34)

Crown Simians (40)
Platyrrhini (35)

Perupithecus (†)


Chilecebus (†20)


Tremacebus (†20)


Homunculus (†16)

Dolichocebus (†20)


Branisella (†26)

Crown Platyrrhini (New World Monkeys) Die Säugthiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur, mit Beschreibungen (Plate 8) (white background).jpg

Catarrhini Cynocephalus doguera - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam - (white background).tiff

Usually the Ekgmowechashalidae are considered to be Strepsirrhini, not Haplorhini.[15] A 2018 study places Eosimiidae as a sister to the crown haplorhini.[16]

Key biological features[edit]

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.[4] The earliest anthropods were small primates with varied diets, forward-facing eyes, acute color vision for daytime lifestyles, and brains devoted more to vision and less to smell.[4] Living simians in both the New World and the Old World have larger brains than other primates, but they evolved these larger brains independently.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Groves, C.P. (2005). "Simiiformes". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. (eds.). 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 (eds.). 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. ^ a b c d Williams, Blythe A; Kay, Richard F; Kirk, E Christopher (January 2010). Walker, Alan (ed.). "New perspectives on anthropoid origins". PNAS. 107 (11): 4797–4804. doi:10.1073/pnas.0908320107. PMC 2841917. PMID 20212104.
  5. ^ Hartwig, W. (2011). "Chapter 3: Primate evolution". In Campbell, C. J.; Fuentes, A.; MacKinnon, K. C.; Bearder, S. K.; Stumpf, R. M (eds.). Primates in Perspective (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 19–31. ISBN 978-0-19-539043-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  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 (ed.). 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. PMC 1150860. 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 (1–2): 204–226. doi:10.1080/08912963.2017.1306522. ISSN 0891-2963.
  12. ^ Cartmill, M.; Smith, F. H (2011). The Human Lineage. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-21145-8.
  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. PMC 3396915. PMID 22696520.
  14. ^ Hartwig, W. (2011). "Chapter 3: Primate evolution". In Campbell, C. J.; Fuentes, A.; MacKinnon, K. C.; Bearder, S. K.; Stumpf, R. M (eds.). Primates in Perspective (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 19–31. ISBN 978-0-19-539043-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  15. ^ Ni, Xijun; Li, Qiang; Li, Lüzhou; Beard, K. Christopher (2016-05-06). "Oligocene primates from China reveal divergence between African and Asian primate evolution". Science. 352 (6286): 673–677. doi:10.1126/science.aaf2107. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 27151861.
  16. ^ Holroyd, Patricia A.; Silcox, Mary T.; López-Torres, Sergi (2018-09-22). "New omomyoids (Euprimates, Mammalia) from the late Uintan of southern California, USA, and the question of the extinction of the Paromomyidae (Plesiadapiformes, Primates)". Palaeontologia Electronica. 21 (3): 1–28. doi:10.26879/756. ISSN 1094-8074.

External links[edit]