Occlusal relief changes with molar wear in Pan troglodytes troglodytes and Gorilla gorilla gorilla.
ABSTRACT Most research on primate tooth form-function relationships has focused on unworn teeth. This study presents a morphological comparison of variably worn lower second molars (M(2)s) of lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla; n=47) and common chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes; n=54) using dental topographic analysis. High-resolution replicas of occlusal surfaces were prepared and scanned in 3D by laser scanning. The resulting elevation data were used to create a geographic information system (GIS) for each tooth. Occlusal relief, defined as the ratio of 3D surface area to 2D planometric area of the occlusal table, was calculated and compared between wear stages, taxa, and sexes. The results failed to show a difference in occlusal relief between males and females of a given taxon, but did evince differences between wear stages and between taxa. A lack of significant interaction between wear stage and taxon factors suggests that differences in occlusal relief between chimpanzees and gorillas are maintained throughout the wear sequence. These results add to a growing body of information on how molar teeth change with wear, and how differences between primate species are maintained at comparable points throughout the wear sequence. Such studies provide new insights into form-function relationships, which will allow us to infer certain aspects of diet in fossils with worn teeth.
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ABSTRACT: Chewing efficiency has been associated with fitness in mammals, yet little is known about the behavioral, ecological, and morphological factors that influence chewing efficiency in wild animals. Although research has established that dental wear and food material properties independently affect chewing efficiency, few studies have addressed the interaction among these factors. We examined chewing efficiency, measured as mean fecal particle size, as a function of seasonal shifts in diet (and corresponding changes in food fracture toughness) in a single breeding population of a grazing primate, the gelada monkey, at Guassa, Ethiopia. We also measured dental topographic traits (slope, angularity, and relief index) and relative two- and three-dimensional shearing crest lengths in a cross-sectional wear series of gelada molars. Chewing efficiency decreased during the dry season, a pattern corresponding to the consumption of foods with higher fracture toughness. Older individuals experienced the most pronounced decreases in chewing efficiency between seasons, implicating dental wear as a causal factor. This pattern is consistent with our finding that dental topographic metrics and three-dimensional relative shearing crest lengths were lowest at the last stage of wear. Integrating these lines of behavioral, ecological, and morphological evidence provides some of the first empirical support for the hypothesis that food fracture toughness and dental wear together contribute to chewing efficiency. Geladas have the highest chewing efficiencies measured thus far in primates, and may be analogous to equids in their emphasis on dental design as a means of particle size reduction in the absence of highly specialized digestive physiology. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.American Journal of Physical Anthropology 07/2014; · 2.48 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Tooth cusp sharpness, measured by radius of curvature (RoC), has been predicted to play a significant role in brittle/hard food item fracture. Here, we set out to test three existing hypotheses about this relationship: namely, the Blunt and Strong Cusp hypotheses, which predict that dull cusps will be most efficient at brittle food item fracture, and the Pointed Cusp hypothesis, which predicts that sharp cusps will be most efficient at brittle food item fracture using a four cusp bunodont molar. We also put forth and test the newly constructed Complex Cusp hypothesis, which predicts that a mixture of dull and sharp cusps will be most efficient at brittle food item fracture. We tested the four hypotheses using finite-element models of four cusped, bunodont molars. When testing the three existing hypotheses, we assumed all cusps had the same level of sharpness (RoC), and gained partial support for the Blunt Cusp hypotheses. We found no support for the Pointed Cusp or Strong Cusp hypotheses. We used the Taguchi sampling method to test the Complex Cusps hypothesis with a morphospace created by independently varying the radii of curvature of the four cusps in the buccolingual and mesiodistal directions. The optimal occlusal morphology for fracturing brittle food items consists of a combination of sharp and dull cusps, which creates high stress concentrations in the food item while stabilizing the food item and keeping the stress concentrations in the enamel low. This model performed better than the Blunt Cusp hypothesis, suggesting a role for optimality in the evolution of cusp form.Journal of The Royal Society Interface 01/2013; 10(84):20130240. · 4.91 Impact Factor