The Evolutionary Radiation of Hominids: a Phylogenetic Comparative Study

Over the last 150 years the diversity and phylogenetic relationships of the hominoids have been one of the main focuses in biological and anthropological research. Despite this, the study of factors involved in their evolutionary radiation and the origin of the hominin clade, a key subject for the further understanding of human evolution, remained mostly unexplored. Here we quantitatively approach these events using phylogenetic comparative methods and craniofacial morphometric data from extant and fossil hominoid species. Specifically, we explore alternative evolutionary models that allow us to gain new insights into this clade diversification process. Our results show a complex and variable scenario involving different evolutionary regimes through the hominid evolutionary radiation –modeled by Ornstein-Uhlenbeck multi-selective regime and Brownian motion multi-rate scenarios–. These different evolutionary regimes might relate to distinct ecological and cultural factors previously suggested to explain hominid evolution at different evolutionary scales along the last 10 million years.