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Temporal range: Paleocene-Holocene
Chapultepec Zoo - Hamadryas baboon.jpg
Hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas)
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Pocock, 1918 [1]

sister: Strepsirrhini

Haplorhini ( /hæpləˈrn/ ), the haplorhines (Greek for "simple-nosed") or the "dry-nosed" primates, is a suborder of primates containing the tarsiers and the simians (Simiiformes or anthropoids), as sister of the Strepsirrhini ("moist-nosed"). The name is sometimes spelled Haplorrhini. [2] The simians include catarrhines (Old World monkeys and apes including humans), and the platyrrhines (New World monkeys).


The extinct omomyids, which are considered to be the most basal haplorhines, are believed to be more closely related to the tarsiers than to other haplorhines. The exact relationship is not yet fully established – Williams, Kay and Kirk (2010) prefer the view that tarsiers and simians share a common ancestor, and that common ancestor shares a common ancestor with the omomyids, citing evidence from analysis by Bajpal et al. in 2008; but they also note two other possibilities – that tarsiers are directly descended from omomyids, with simians being a separate line, or that both simians and tarsiers are descended from omomyids. [3]

Haplorhines share a number of derived features that distinguish them from the strepsirrhine "wet-nosed" primates (whose Greek name means "curved nose"), the other suborder of primates from which they diverged some 63 million years ago[ citation needed ]. The haplorhines, including tarsiers, have all lost the function of the terminal enzyme that manufactures Vitamin C, while the strepsirrhines, like most other orders of mammals, have retained this enzyme. [4] Genetically, five short interspersed nuclear elements (SINEs) are common to all haplorhines whilst absent in strepsirrhines. [3] The haplorhine upper lip, which has replaced the ancestral rhinarium found in strepsirrhines, is not directly connected to their nose or gum, allowing a large range of facial expressions. [5] Their brain-to-body mass ratio is significantly greater than the strepsirrhines, and their primary sense is vision. Haplorhines have a postorbital plate, unlike the postorbital bar found in strepsirrhines. Most species are diurnal (the exceptions being the tarsiers and the night monkeys).

All anthropoids have a single-chambered uterus; tarsiers have a bicornate uterus like the strepsirrhines. Most species typically have single births, although twins and triplets are common for marmosets and tamarins. Despite similar gestation periods, haplorhine newborns are relatively much larger than strepsirrhine newborns, but have a longer dependence period on their mother. This difference in size and dependence is credited to the increased complexity of their behavior and natural history.


The taxonomic name Haplorhini derives from the Ancient Greek haploûs (ἁπλούς, "onefold, single, simple") and rhinos (ῥις (genitive ῥινός), "nose"). It refers to the lack of a rhinarium or "wet nose", which is found in many mammals, including strepsirrhine primates. [6]

Classification and evolution

Molecular estimates based on mitochondrial genomes suggest Haplorhini and its sister clade, Strepsirrhini, diverged 74 million years ago (mya), but no crown primate fossils are known prior to the beginning of the Eocene, 56 mya. [7] The same molecular analysis suggests the infraorder Tarsiiformes, whose only remaining family is that of the tarsier (Tarsiidae), branched off from the other haplorhines 70 mya. [7] The fossil Archicebus may be similar to the most recent common ancestor at this time.

The other major clade within Haplorhini, the simians (or anthropoids), is divided into two parvorders: Platyrrhini (the New World monkeys) and Catarrhini (the Old World monkeys and apes). The New World monkeys split from catarrhines about 35 - 40 mya [8] and have African origin, [9] while the apes (Hominoidea) diverged from Old World monkeys (Cercopithecoidea) about 25 mya. [10] The available fossil evidence indicates that both the hominoid and cercopithecoid clades originated in Africa. [9]

The following is the listing of the living haplorhine families, and their placement in the Order Primates: [1] [11]

Uncertain placement of extinct early haplorhines

The exact placement of early haplorhine families is uncertain owing to limited evidence. The following sets out a possible order put together by Williams, Kay and Kirk in 2010, based on cladograms put together by Seiffert et al (2005), Marivaux (2006) and Bajpai et al (2008), and should not be seen as definitive. They do not include Propliopithecoidea as they classify them as early catarrhines. [3] Also included are Archicebidae, the discovery of which was announced by Ni et al in 2013. [12] (but see notes below regarding placement).

Sigé et al (1990) describe Altiatlasius as an Omomyiform, but also state that it could be an early anthropoid, with the latter view being supported by Godinot (1994) and Bajpai et al (2008). [3]

Kay et al (2004) point out that a case can be made for Amphipithecidae being placed either as adapiformes (i.e. early strepsirrhines) or as early anthropoids, noting in particular that they had a long evolution separate from other groups, and that key parts of their anatomy are missing from the fossil record. They conclude that either possibility is equally plausible. [13]

Kay and Williams (2013, edited by Feagle and Kay), look at possible hypotheses about how oligopiths, parapiths and propliopiths relate to each other and catarrhines and platyrrhines:
- that parapiths and propliopiths are closely related, with their common ancestor being related to oligopiths, and the common ancestor of all three being related to the platyrrhines with extant catarrhines (i.e. cercopithecoidea and hominoidea) being descended from the propliopiths;
- or that parapiths and propliopiths are closely related but their common ancestor is closely related to the platyrrhines and the common ancestor of all three is related to the oligopiths, with extant catarrhines again being descended from the propliopiths;
- or that propliopiths and oligopiths are closely related, and parapiths are related to the common ancestor of both and the common ancestor of all three is related to the platyrrhines, with cercopithecoidea being descended from the parapiths and hominoidea being descended from propliopiths.
- finally, they also consider the hypothesis that oligopiths are adapiformes (i.e. early strepsirrhines rather than early haplorhines) [14]

Ni et al, in announcing Archicebus achilles in 2013 as what they describe as the earliest known primate with such detailed remains, place it somewhat differently to the above as they place Omomyids within Tarsiiformes, with Omomyids and Tarsiidae sharing a common ancestor, and that common ancestor sharing a common Tarsiiform ancestor with the Archicebidae. [12]

Related Research Articles

Primate An order of mammals

A primate is a eutherian mammal constituting the taxonomic order Primates. Primates arose 85–55 million years ago first from small terrestrial mammals, which adapted to living in the trees of tropical forests: many primate characteristics represent adaptations to life in this challenging environment, including large brains, visual acuity, color vision, a shoulder girdle allowing a large degree of movement in the shoulder joint, and dextrous hands. Primates range in size from Madame Berthe's mouse lemur, which weighs 30 g (1 oz), to the eastern gorilla, weighing over 200 kg (440 lb). There are 190–448 species of living primates, depending on which classification is used. New primate species continue to be discovered: over 25 species were described in the 2000s, and 11 since 2010.

Ape A branch of primate

Apes are a branch of Old World tailless simians native to Africa and Southeast Asia. They are the sister group of the Old World monkeys, together forming the catarrhine clade. They are distinguished from other primates by a wider degree of freedom of motion at the shoulder joint as evolved by the influence of brachiation. In traditional and non-scientific use, the term "ape" excludes humans, and can include tailless primates taxonomically considered monkeys, and is thus not equivalent to the scientific taxon Hominoidea. There are two extant branches of the superfamily Hominoidea: the gibbons, or lesser apes; and the hominids, or great apes.

New World monkey Parvorder of mammals

New World monkeys are the five families of primates that are found in the tropical regions of Mexico, Central and South America: Callitrichidae, Cebidae, Aotidae, Pitheciidae, and Atelidae. The five families are ranked together as the Ceboidea, the only extant superfamily in the parvorder Platyrrhini . Platyrrhini means broad-nosed, and their noses are flatter than those of other simians, with sideways-facing nostrils. Monkeys in the family Atelidae, such as the spider monkey, are the only primates to have prehensile tails. New World monkeys' closest relatives are the other simians, the Catarrhini ("down-nosed"), comprising Old World monkeys and apes. New World monkeys descend from African simians that colonized South America, a line that split off about 40 million years ago.

Old World monkey Family of mammals

Old World monkey is the common English name for a family of primates known taxonomically as the Cercopithecidae. Twenty-four genera and 138 species are recognized, making it the largest primate family. Old World monkey genera include baboons and macaques. Common names for other Old World monkeys include the talapoin, guenon, colobus, douc, vervet, gelada, mangabey, langur, mandrill, surili (Presbytis), patas, and proboscis monkey. Phylogenetically, they are more closely related to apes than to New World monkeys. They diverged from a common ancestor of New World monkeys around 55 million years ago.

Catarrhini Group of Old World monkeys and apes

The parvorder Catarrhini, catarrhine monkeys or Old World anthropoids are the sister group to the New World monkeys, the Platyrrhini. The Platyrrhini emerged within "monkeys" by migration to South America from Afro-Arabia, likely by ocean. With respect to the ones that stayed behind, Geoffroy in 1812 grouped the apes (Hominoidea) and the Cercopithecoidea together and established the name Catarrhini, "Old World monkeys",. There has been some resistance to directly designate apes as monkeys despite the scientific evidence, so "Old World monkey" may be taken to mean the Cercopithecoidea or the Catarrhini. That apes are monkeys was already realized by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon in the 18th century. The apes are further divided into the lesser apes or gibbons and the great apes, consisting of the orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and humans. The Catarrhini are all native to Africa and Asia. Members of this parvorder are called catarrhines.

Strepsirrhini A suborder of primates which includes lemurs, galagos, pottos and lorises

Strepsirrhini or Strepsirhini is a suborder of primates that includes the lemuriform primates, which consist of the lemurs of Madagascar, galagos ("bushbabies") and pottos from Africa, and the lorises from India and southeast Asia. Collectively they are referred to as strepsirrhines. Also belonging to the suborder are the extinct adapiform primates that thrived during the Eocene in Europe, North America, and Asia, but disappeared from most of the Northern Hemisphere as the climate cooled. Adapiforms are sometimes referred to as being "lemur-like", although the diversity of both lemurs and adapiforms does not support this comparison.

Prosimian Obsolete primate taxon

Prosimians are a group of primates that includes all living and extinct strepsirrhines, as well as the haplorhine tarsiers and their extinct relatives, the omomyiforms, i.e. all primates excluding the simians. They are considered to have characteristics that are more "primitive" than those of simians.

Tarsiiformes Group of primates

Tarsiiformes are a group of primates that once ranged across Europe, northern Africa, Asia, and North America, but whose extant species are all found in the islands of Southeast Asia. Tarsiers are the only living members of the infraorder, and also include the extinct Tarsius eocaenus from the Eocene and Tarsius thailandicus from the Miocene. Two extinct genera, Xanthorhysis and Afrotarsius, are considered to be close relatives of the living tarsiers and are generally classified within Tarsiiformes, with the former grouped within family Tarsiidae and the latter listed as incertae sedis (undefined). Omomyids are generally considered to be extinct relatives, or even ancestors, of the living tarsiers and are often classified within Tarsiiformes. Other fossil primates, which include Microchoeridae, Carpolestidae, and Eosimiidae, have been included in this classification, although the fossil evidence is debated. Eosimiidae has also been classified under the infraorder Simiiformes. Likewise, Carpolestidae is often classified within the order Plesiadapiformes, a very close, extinct relative of primates. These conflicting classifications lie at the heart of the debate over early primate evolution. Even the placement of Tarsiiformes within suborder Haplorhini is still debated.

Simian Infraorder of primates

The simians, anthropoids or higher primates are an infraorder of primates containing the parvorders Platyrrhini and Catarrhini, the latter of which consists of the superfamilies Cercopithecoidea and Hominoidea.

Adapiformes Extinct order of primates

Adapiformes is a group of early primates. Adapiforms radiated throughout much of the northern continental mass, reaching as far south as northern Africa and tropical Asia. They existed from the Eocene to the Miocene epoch. Some adapiforms resembled living lemurs.


The rhinarium is the furless skin surface surrounding the external openings of the nostrils in many mammals. Commonly it is referred to as the tip of the snout, and breeders of cats and dogs sometimes use the term nose leather. Informally, it may be called a "truffle", "wet snout" or "wet nose," because its surface is moist in some species: for example, healthy dogs and cats.

Monkey Animal of the "higher primates" (the simians), but excluding the apes

Monkey is a common name that may refer to certain groups or species of simian mammals of infraorder Simiiformes. The term is applied descriptively to groups of primates, such as families of New World monkeys and Old World monkeys. Many monkey species are tree-dwelling (arboreal), although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Most species are mainly active during the day (diurnal). Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent, especially the Old World monkeys of Catarrhini.

Altiatlasius is an extinct genus of mammal, which may have been the oldest known primate, dating to the Late Paleocene from Morocco. The only species, Altiatlasius koulchii, was described in 1990.

<i>Darwinius</i> Extinct genus of primates

Darwinius is a genus within the infraorder Adapiformes, a group of basal strepsirrhine primates from the middle Eocene epoch. Its only known species, Darwinius masillae, lived approximately 47 million years ago based on dating of the fossil site.

Evolution of lemurs History of primate evolution on Madagascar

Lemurs, primates belonging to the suborder Strepsirrhini which branched off from other primates less than 63 million years ago, evolved on the island of Madagascar, for at least 40 million years. They share some traits with the most basal primates, and thus are often confused as being ancestral to modern monkeys, apes, and humans. Instead, they merely resemble ancestral primates.

Parapithecidae is an extinct family of primates which lived in the Eocene and Oligocene periods in Egypt. Eocene fossils from Myanmar are sometimes included in the family in addition. They showed certain similarities in dentition to Condylarthra, but had short faces and jaws shaped like those of tarsiers. They are part of the superfamily Parapithecoidea, perhaps equally related to Ceboidea and Cercopithecoidea plus Hominoidea - but the placement of Parapithecoidea is substantially uncertain.


The sublingua ("under-tongue") is a muscular secondary tongue found below the primary tongue in tarsiers and living strepsirrhine primates, which includes lemurs and lorisoids. Although it is most fully developed in these primates, similar structures can be found in some other mammals, such as marsupials, treeshrews, and colugos. This "second tongue" lacks taste buds, and in lemuriforms, it is thought to be used to remove hair and other debris from the toothcomb, a specialized dental structure used to comb the fur during oral grooming.

<i>Archicebus</i> Genus of fossil primates that lived in the early Eocene forests (~55 million years ago

Archicebus is a genus of fossil primates that lived in the early Eocene forests of what is now Jingzhou in the Hubei Province in central China, discovered in 2003. The only known species, A. achilles, was a small primate, estimated to weigh approximately 20–30 grams (0.71–1.06 oz), and is the only known member of the family Archicebidae. As of 2013, it is the oldest fossil haplorhine primate skeleton discovered, appearing to be most closely related to tarsiers and the fossil omomyids, although A. achilles is suggested to have been diurnal whereas tarsiers are nocturnal. Resembling tarsiers and simians, it was a haplorhine primate, and it also may have resembled the last common ancestor of all haplorhines as well as the last common ancestor of all primates. Its discovery further supports the hypothesis that primates originated in Asia, not in Africa.

Evolution of primates The origin and diversification of primates through geologic time

The evolutionary history of the primates can be traced back 57-85/90 million years. One of the oldest known primate-like mammal species, Plesiadapis, came from North America; another, Archicebus, came from China. Other similar basal primates were widespread in Eurasia and Africa during the tropical conditions of the Paleocene and Eocene. Purgatorius is the genus of the four extinct species believed to be the earliest example of a primate or a proto-primate, a primatomorph precursor to the Plesiadapiformes, dating to as old as 66 million years ago.

The Amphipithecidae were simian primates that lived in Late Eocene and Early Oligocene. Fossils have been found in Myanmar, Thailand, and Pakistan. The limited fossil evidence is consistent with, but not exclusive to, arboreal quadrupedalism. In other words, the species may have moved about in trees on four legs, but not with regular leaping as seen in later simians.


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Literature cited