Proconsul is an extinct genus of primates of which several species have been found. It is a fascinating genus of primates that due to natural reasons are already extinct, although we can still enjoy their cousins. They are really ancient and to indicate when they inhabited the planet we have to talk in millions of years.

They inhabited during what is known as the Cenozoic. The Cenozoic Era is subdivided into several periods, the Proconsul would have inhabited during the Neogene period.

The general physical appearance of the Proconsul was very similar to that of a modern-day chimpanzee. The main characteristic of this genus of primates is its absence of a tail. It is closely related to modern humans and even more so to primates in general.

Is it interesting to you? Then read on because we have some of the most complete information you will find on Proconsul. Find out all about this prehistoric primate!


Basic information about the Proconsul

The Proconsul was an animal quite similar to what would become the current primates. It’s a land mammal that inhabited our planet a few million years ago. However, we must point out that, despite the fact that we are presenting it on our dinosaur page, at no time should you associate this genus with a dinosaur.

  • How long is it? – Unknown.
  • How tall is it? – Unknown.
  • What’s its weight? – Approximately 75 kilograms (P. major), 11 kilograms (P. heseloni) and 35 kilograms (P. nyanzae).
  • When did he live? – It lived on our planet from 22 million years ago until about 15 million years ago.
  • What is its superfamily? – It belongs to the ape family.

The taxonomy of the Proconsul

Kingdom Animalia > Filo Chordata > Mammalia Class > Order Primates > Superfamily Hominoid > Family Proconsulidae > Subfamily Proconsulinae > Genus Proconsul

Within the Genus Proconsul we can find several species belonging to the genus. In any case, there is no need to consider the possibility of finding other species in the future. In this case, we will take care to keep this section updated as changes are made.

Proconsul species

P. africanus
P. Major
P. nyanzae
P. heseloni

The superfamily: the apes

Before covering more on the aspects of the genus, it is convenient to review the group of animals that it belongs to. The Proconsul are classified within the ape superfamily. This is because they adopt the characteristics of those belonging to this family. To learn more about this, we will start by talking about the characteristics and features of the apes.

Today there are still a lot of genera and species belonging to this superfamily, not much further away than humans and monkeys in general. Most of the genera are quadrupeds, that is, they use all four limbs to move around. As an exception we can include ourselves, humans who are strictly bipedal animals, but the rest of the apes can be casual bipeds.

The main distinction between apes and other mammals is that they have highly specialized bones in their hands for manipulation. The evolution of most mammals originally had fingers and have been losing them throughout the evolutionary process. However, apes still have their finger bones, specifically five of them, and they have also evolved to be more flexible.

What sets apes apart from their peers is the absence of a tail. The fact is that the evolutionary process of apes led to the suppression of the tail, which differentiates this superfamily or suborder from the other suborders of the primate order.

Furthermore, with the exception of humans and gorillas, apes are excellent climbers. They are able to move quickly by jumping from branch to branch.

The angle of vision of apes is much more three-dimensional than that of primates in general. And that’s because the apes’ eyes are closer together and point forward than other genera. One feature that distinguishes it from other genera belonging to other primate suborders is the development of the brain.

Information about the Proconsul

The controversy of the classification of this genre is served. Some consider that it deserves to be classified as an ape, while others suggest that it should be considered a prosimium. The similarity of the Proconsul to monkeys in general is much greater than that of apes.

The Proconsul resemble other subordinates much more than the apes. And that’s because within the characteristics that they have is their great capacity to grasp. The only thing that is similar between the Proconsul and the apes is mainly the absence of a tail.

How was their discovery?

The first samples of this genus were found in 1909. The credit for this discovery goes to a simple gold prospector. The area where it would have been found is Koru (Kisumu) which is located towards the west of Kenya. The Proconsul currently holds the title of being the oldest hominid fossil in history.

This genus was named by Arthur Hopwood, who described and named it in 1933. The origin of its name is due to a famous captive chimpanzee that served as an experiment in London and was called Proconsul.

When did these apes live?

In this page we are used to talk about dinosaurs, which we usually talk about in millions of years ago. In this case, we are talking about a genus of ape that is very similar to today’s apes and, above all, has passed through the evolutionary process by losing its tail (just like human beings).

With all this in mind, we might think that they are relatively recent and that we would only be talking about a couple of thousand years ago. This is not the case, and it is really surprising to learn that one of our relatives was living on earth as recently as 25 million years ago.

This may not be much when compared to the millions of years in the past that dinosaurs lived, but considering that this is a genus of hominid it is really amazing. If we want to be more specific about the time period it lived in, we can do so by saying that it lived during the Neogene Miocense Aquitian.

These animals would have lived in areas with lots of trees. This coincides with the description that they would have been good climbers, since they lived in jungles or forests. It would have fed on fruits growing on plants, that is, it was a frugivorous animal.