The extinction of Xenothrix mcgregori, Jamaica’s last monkey

Siobhán B. Cooke, Alexis M. Mychajliw, John Southon, Ross D.E. Macphee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Jamaican primate, Xenothrix mcgregori, regarded variously as either a pitheciid or a stem platyrrhine, was the terminal branch of a clade that likely entered the West Indies at least as early as the Early Miocene, although its lineage is represented by fossils of Quaternary age only. We present a new direct radiocarbon-based date of 1,477 ± 34 calibrated years before present (cal BP) for the last documented appearance of this species in the fossil record. We employed the Gaussian-resampled, inverse-weighted McInerny et al. (GRIWM) method to estimate the extinction date of X. mcgregori, based on the data presented here as well as 6 other dates derived from X. mcgregori sites. On this basis, we estimated a last occurrence ~900 BP. The cause or causes of this extinction, as well as the many others that occurred in late Quaternary of the Greater Antilles, remain a matter of debate. The likeliest inference is that these losses were largely if not completely anthropogenically driven. Although many species and populations of primates are critically threatened today, the loss of X. mcgregori stands as the most recent species-level extinction within Anthropoidea corroborated by radiometric evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)937-949
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of mammalogy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Caribbean
  • Extinction
  • GRIWM method
  • Greater Antilles
  • Jamaica
  • Platyrrhine evolution
  • Radiocarbon dating
  • Xenothrix mcgregori

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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