|Named By:||D. L. Gebo, L. MacLatchy, R. Kityo, A. Deino, J. Kingston & D. Pilbeam in 1997|
|Fossil(s):||Partial remains including teeth and vertebrae|
|Classification:||| Chordata | Mamamlia | Primates | Hominoidea ||
Morotopithecus bishopi is a species of fossil ape discovered in Moroto, Uganda.
The phylogenetic status of Morotopithecus bishopi is debated to the extent that it challenges established views on the connection between Miocene primates and extant hominids (i.e. great apes). Parsimonious phylogenetic analyses indicate Morotopithecus is more derived than Proconsul, Afropithecus, and Kenyapithecus, but less derived than Oreopithecus, Sivapithecus, and Dryopithecus. Morotopithecus thus seems to be a sister taxon to extant great apes while Hylobates (gibbons) seem to have branched off before this clade appeared. However, gibbons are believed to have branched off 18 million years ago while Morotopithecus is dated to more than 20.6 million years. In a comparison of teeth characteristics of Morotopithecus to Afropithecus the results showed little difference, plus evidence gathered from cranial comparisons also indicate that the two genera may be the same, a conclusion of limited confidence due to the lack of evidence to produce a complete anatomy for both (Patel, Grossman 2005).