Parallel episodes of phyletic dwarfism in callitrichid and cheirogaleid primates

S H Montgomery, N I Mundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The Callitrichidae are the smallest anthropoids, whereas the Cheirogaleidae include the smallest of all primates. Using species-level analyses, we show that these are derived conditions; both neonatal and adult body mass decreased in a gradual, phyletic manner in parallel across callitrichids, and across cheirogaleids. We identify lineages with particularly rapid decreases and highlight the pygmy marmoset, Callithrix pygmaea, as a phenotypic outlier. The life-history traits associated with body-mass reduction in each clade suggest that the convergent evolution of small body size was achieved by changes in different ontogenetic stages. Body-size reduction in callitrichids appears to be almost exclusively due to alterations in prenatal growth rate, whereas body-size reduction in cheirogaleids may have been largely due to reduced duration of growth phases. Finally, we use these results to discuss some of the debates surrounding the evolution of Homo floresiensis and suggest potential parallels between the evolution of H. floresiensis and callitrichids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810-9
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2013 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2013 European Society For Evolutionary Biology.


  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn/genetics
  • Biological Evolution
  • Body Size/genetics
  • Callitrichinae/classification
  • Cheirogaleidae/classification
  • Female
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors


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