[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Taphonomic processes have the potential to affect microscopic wear on teeth and to modify the wear patterns so as to confound dietary reconstructions based on dental microwear which was formed during the lifetime of an animal. This study describes a series of experiments which were conducted to simulate various taphonomic agents and to record their effect on dental microwear. Three types of experiment were carried out in order to explain anomalous microscopic wear that had been found on the dentition of several hominoid specimens from the 15 M.a. site of Pasalar in Turkey. The effect of two different acids-citric and hydrochloric acid-on dental microwear was investigated. Modification to microscopic wear caused by alkali (carbonatite ash) was examined in the second set of experiments. Lastly, the effect of abrasion by three different size classes of sediment from the site of Pasalar - quartz pebbles (grain size varied from 2,000- 11,000 μm), coarse sand (grain size ranged from 500-1,000 μm), and medium- sized sand (grain diameters were between 250 and 500 μm) - was investigated. Results confirm previous findings that the taphonomic modification of dental microwear is readily identifiable and causes the obliteration rather than secondary alteration of microwear features. The experiments show that both citric and hydrochloric acid affect dental microwear but to varying degrees, whereas alkali did not cause any modification of microscopic features. The different size classes of sediment also had different effects on the dental microwear. The largest size sediment (quartz pebbles) polished the enamel and removed finer microwear features. The coarse sand, however, did not have any effect on the microwear. The greatest amount of abrasion was caused by the smallest sediment particles-the medium-sized sand. Several hominoid dental specimens from Pasalar display similar microscopic wear to the two types of acid erosion and the abrasion caused by the medium-sized sands.
Full-text · Article · Mar 1999 · American Journal of Physical Anthropology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The examination of microscopic dental wear allows inferences to be made about diet in extinct species. This study reconstructs the diet of Griphopithecus alpani, a 15 Ma fossil hominoid from the Miocene site of Paşalar in north-western Turkey, using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to examine the microscopic wear on its molar teeth. The microwear patterns of Griphopithecus are compared with those of three extant hominoid taxa-Gorilla gorilla gorilla, Pan troglodytes verus, and Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus. The microwear on three occlusal wear surfaces is examined in this study, and sex and age differences are also included. Analysis of variance is performed on the following microwear variables-feature density, pit density, striation density, the ratio of pits relative to striations, pit widths, and striation widths. Griphopithecus has significantly higher microwear feature densities and higher percentages of pits than Gorilla. It also has larger pit frequencies and narrower striations than both Pan and Gorilla. There are no significant differences between the microwear patterns of Griphopithecus and Pongo. This suggests that the diet of Gripho-pithecus was more similar to that of Pongo, which consumes mainly fruit, and occasionally hard and unripe fruits and nuts, than to that of Pan and Gorilla. In addition, the high percentage of pits displayed by Griphopithecus may indicate that it was ingesting harder fruits and/or objects than the extant hominoids, although this is not a significant difference. There also are consistent variations in the microwear present on the three different wear facets examined in the study-Phase II facets display more microwear and pitting than the Phase I surface examined. The results of this study do not indicate variation in dental microwear according to sex or age.
Full-text · Article · Feb 1999 · Journal of Human Evolution