Hominidae refers to the family that includes the great apes and humans. There are seven extant species in four genera: orangutans (2 species in genus Pongo), gorillas (2 species in genus Gorilla), chimpanzees (2 species in genus Pan) and humans (genus Homo). All members are relatively large compared to other primate species, and have long arms, short legs and no tail, and all but the orangutans live mostly on the ground. The Hominidae is thought to have diverged from the gibbons (the lesser apes, family Hylobatidae) about 15-20 million years ago.
Before our present understanding of great ape relationships, humans were separated out in their own family, Hominidae, and the other great apes (orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees) made up a separate family, the Pongidae. Over the years between the 1960-1990, especially once immunological and molecular methods were employed to investigate great ape phylogeny, the taxonomy was revised to reflect the understanding that chimpanzees are the sister taxon to humans. These methods also resolved Gorilla as the closest relative to the Homo-Pan clade, with three genera together composing the Homininae. The now-paraphyletic term Pongidae is no longer used; however, as a relic of the initial classification separating non-human great apes, humans and their extinct bipedal relatives are still often (confusingly) referred to as hominids.
(Goodman et al. 1990; Wikipedia 2014)
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:29024
Specimens with Barcodes:18129
Species With Barcodes:13
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2014)|
Not to be confused with Ponginae
Pongid refers to members of the obsolete taxon Pongidae. They are sometimes called great apes. Pongidae is now known to be paraphyletic. Pongids gave rise to hominins around seven mya. The corresponding crown group for this taxon is Hominidae. Pongidae has six extant member species. This taxon is rarely used today but is of historical significance.
Distinction to hominins
|Mode of locomotion||Knuckle walking, arboreal||Bipedalism|
|Location of foramen magnum||Back of the skull||Under the skull|
|Average brain capacity||400 cc||1700 cc|
|Skull (viewed from top)||pear-shaped||ovoid|
|Widest part of skull viewed from behind||Parietal region||Base of the skull(near the auditory region)|
The pongid skull contains the following features that are absent or less pronounced in humans:
- a sulcus behind the brow ridges
- a protruding occipital region
- large, bony eye sockets
- a large nasal opening
- constriction just behind the orbital region
- stout facial bones
- a diastema
- a simian shelf
Adaptations for locomotion
The following adaptations are for arboreal and knuckle walking locomotion and are not found in humans:
|Arms are as long as or longer than the legs||Arms are shorter than the legs|
|Scapula has an orientation for supporting the body weight beneath the arms||Scapula is oriented for holding the arms by the side|
|Digits are long and curved for grasping branches||Digits are shorter and straight|
|Pelvis is shaped to support the legs and trunk in the bent-over posture||Pelvis is shaped to support the legs and trunk in a vertical position|
|Knees do not lock the legs||Knees lock the legs straight to minimize the expenditure of energy when standing|
|Pelvis is relatively large||Pelvis is much shorter and bowl-shaped|
|Iliac pillar is elongated||The iliac crest is oriented more to the side and slanted|
Similarity to hominins
The australopithecines show intermediate character states between pongids and humans, with Pithecanthropus intermediate between australopithecines and humans. Members of the genus Homo share many key features with anatomically modern man.
- "Pongid definition".
- Cordain, Loren (2007). "Implications of Plio-pleistocene diets for modern humans". In Peter S. Ungar. Evolution of the human diet: the known, the unknown and the unknowable. pp. 264–5.
"Since the evolutionary split between hominins and pongids approximately 7 million years ago, the available evidence shows that all species of hominins ate an omnivorous diet composed of minimally processed, wild-plant, and animal foods.
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