The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


Postcanine tooth size and metabolic requirements in primates

PAUL PALMQVIST1, JUAN MANUEL JIMÉNEZ ARENAS2 and JUAN ANTONIO PÉREZ-CLAROS1.

1Departamento de Ecología y Geología (Área de Paleontología), Universidad de Málaga, 2Departamento de Prehistoria y Arqueología, Universidad de Granada

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We show the results of a study in which the relationship between postcanine tooth occlusal area (PCOA) and basal metabolic rate (BMR) has been evaluated in 28 primate species. On the one hand, the results obtained indicate that there is a high correlation between the BMR and the size of the PCOA, even when phylogenetic control tests are used, and that isometry cannot be discarded in both cases. However, if the effects of body mass are removed, a null slope cannot be discarded. On the other hand, when body mass (BM) is taken as the independent variable and PCOA as the dependent one, the slope obtained evidences a negative allometry, and this holds also when phylogenetic control is used.

Given these contradictory results, we suggest that the rule of “equivalence between exponents” (i.e. if the exponent is close to 0.75, a metabolic function is deduced) is not a good approach for obtaining inferences on the function of postcanine teeth. The argument for the existence or absence of a given relationship between two variables is based on the p value used for testing the null hypothesis H01=0), which is independent of the value taken by the slope of one of these variables when regressed on a third one. A different issue is if we wish to deepen on the relationship between the changes in PCOA and BMR, a task that needs evaluating the value obtained for the slopes. In any case, BM emerges as a key factor in such relationship.

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