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20 - Dispersion, Speciation, Evolution, and Coexistence of East Asian Catarrhine Primates and Humans in Yunnan, China

from Part IV - Asia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 August 2022

Bernardo Urbani
Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research
Dionisios Youlatos
Aristotle University, Thessaloniki
Andrzej T. Antczak
Universiteit Leiden
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Based on a broad literature review of journal and book publications, governmental archives, and annals, this study comprehensively examines the special contribution of Yunnan, China, to understanding East Asian catarrhines (colobines, macaques), as well as hominoids, gibbons, hominins, and modern ethnic groups since the Later Miocene or Early Pliocene. It spatially demonstrates their relationship, particularly that between primates and archaic and modern humans. The results indicate that a specific region in Yunnan, joining with the southeast Qinghai–Tibet Plateau, the end of the eastern margin of the Himalayas, and the Hengduan Mountains (SQPMH), is globally distinctive in promoting catarrhine dispersion, radiation, speciation, and evolution in East and Southeast Asia. This area forms the gateway between West, East and Southeast. Six major archaeological sites in Yunnan (Yuanmou, Jiangchuan, Tangzigou, Xianrendong, Xiaodong, and Maludong) share the same environments and habitats with primates, indicating a strong tendency for coexistence. Yunnan also offered an exclusive refugium for plants, animals, and humans during the glaciation so that it maintains the largest numbers of ethnic groups (26) and primate species (21 of 25 species) in China. Although primates inspired significant contributions to arts, culture, social life, and medical research for humans, as in other parts of China, they have suffered greatly in recent Chinese history, particularly since the second half of the last century, resulting in the extirpation of two gibbon species in the province.


East Asia, Yunnan, Qinghai Tibet Plateau, Mts. Hengduan, Refugium, Homo, Primates, Dispersion, Catarrhine Evolution

World Archaeoprimatology
Interconnections of Humans and Nonhuman Primates in the Past
, pp. 497 - 515
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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