Old World monkeys are some of the most common and visible components of the modern mammalian fauna of Africa, and are the dominant nonhuman primates in Africa today with respect to the overall numbers of species present and the number of ecological zones inhabited. What is rarely appreciated is that Old World monkeys have risen to a position of ecological dominance among primates only recently in geological time. During the early and middle Miocene, the Cercopithecoidea were well established in Africa, but not taxonomically diverse. The absence or near absence of monkey fossils from prolific early Miocene sites like Rusinga Island suggests that the animals were genuinely rare elements of the mammalian fauna at the time. The earliest African cercopithecoids belong to the Victoriapithecidae, an extinct family from the early to middle Miocene of eastern Africa that exhibit a mosaic of basal catarrhine and modern Old World monkeylike morphological features. This chapter describes the systematic paleontology of Cercopithecoidea.
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