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Theropithecus oswaldi darti, as currently understood, is the oldest Theropithecus taxon in the fossil record and the earliest subspecies in the Theropithecus oswaldi lineage. Theropithecus oswaldi darti is typified at the site of Makapansgat in South Africa, and a similar form (T. o. cf. darti) is usually recognized at Hadar, Dikika, some Middle Awash localities, and Woranso-Mille in Ethiopia. This taxon is also tentatively believed to occur in Kenya at Kanam and Koobi Fora and in Member C of the Shungura Formation in Ethiopia. While there is a general consensus that the East African ‘darti’ specimens are sufficiently similar to each other, there has always been a question of whether they are too distinct from the South African type material of T. o. darti to belong to the same subspecies. Here we conduct a morphological comparison of the different samples previously assigned to T. o. darti and T. o. cf. darti. The results of our analyses overwhelmingly support the hypothesis that the East African samples are distinct from the South African ones, and they are likely distinct in geological age as well. Therefore, we propose a new subspecies designation for the material previously termed T. o. cf. darti from East Africa: Theropithecus (Theropithecus) oswaldi ecki subsp. nov. We also formally recognize Theropithecus (Theropithecus) oswaldi serengetensis (Dietrich, 1942) for specimens from Laetoli, Woranso-Mille, and perhaps Galili.


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