Intra- and interspecific variation in Macaque molar enamel thickness

Akiko Kato, Nancy Tang, Carola Borries, Amanda M. Papakyrikos, Katie Hinde, Ellen Miller, Yutaka Kunimatsu, Eishi Hirasaki, Daisuke Shimizu, Tanya M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Enamel thickness has played an important role in studies of primate taxonomy, phylogeny, and functional morphology, although its variation among hominins is poorly understood. Macaques parallel hominins in their widespread geographic distribution, relative range of body sizes, and radiation during the last five million years. To explore enamel thickness variation, we quantified average and relative enamel thickness (AET and RET) in Macaca arctoides, Macaca fascicularis, Macaca fuscata, Macaca mulatta, Macaca nemestrina, and Macaca sylvanus. Enamel area, dentine area, and enamel-dentine junction length were measured from mesial sections of 386 molars scanned with microcomputed tomography, yielding AET and RET indices. Intraspecific sex differences were not found in AET or RET. Macaca fuscata had the highest AET and RET, M. fascicularis showed the lowest AET, and M. arctoides had the lowest RET. The latitudinal distribution of macaque species was associated with AET for these six species. Temperate macaques had thicker molar enamel than did tropical macaques, suggesting that thick enamel may be adaptive in seasonal environments. Additional research is needed to determine if thick enamel in temperate macaques is a response to intensified hardobject feeding, increased abrasion, and/or a broader diet with a greater range of food material properties. The extreme ecological flexibility of macaques may prohibit identification of consistent trends between specific diets and enamel thickness conditions. Such complications of interpretation of ecological variability, dietary diversity, and enamel thickness may similarly apply for fossil Homo species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-459
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Volume155
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Dental morphology
  • Dietary ecology
  • Functional morphology
  • Primate ecogeography
  • Relative enamel thickness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology

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