The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Anterior dental microwear in sympatric Callicebus brunneus and Ateles marginatus


1Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas, 2Department of Physical Therapy, High Point University

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Titi monkeys (Callicebus) have short, incisiform canines compared with most other anthropoid species. They are reported to use these teeth more in ingestive behaviors than do sympatric primates such as Ateles, which have longer, dimorphic canines. Here we compare dental microwear textures of the anterior teeth of Callicebus brunneus (n = 10 C1s, 10 I1s) and Ateles marginatus (n = 11 C1s, 9 I1s) to determine whether differences in dental form and function are reflected in microwear texture patterning.

We predicted that Callicebus canine microwear should more closely resemble that on their incisors given their greater role in ingestive behavior compared with Ateles. We expected more complex microwear with less anisotropy and more variability of canine microwear for Callicebus than Ateles, with fewer differences between species for the incisors.

White-light confocal profilometry and scale-sensitive fractal analysis were used to characterize microwear on the labial surfaces of I1s and C1s. Results are generally consistent with predictions. No interspecific differences were found for incisor microwear textures. Ateles canines have significantly lower complexity and variance in textural fill volume than those of Callicebus. Callicebus canines evince higher anisotropy and scale of maximum complexity, but not complexity than their incisors. Ateles canines have significantly lower complexity, higher anisotropy, and lower variance for complexity and scale of maximum complexity than their incisors. In sum, results appear to reflect greater use of canines in ingestive behavior for Callicebus than Ateles. This demonstrates the potential of anterior dental microwear textures for inferring tooth use in fossil primates.

Funded by the LSB Leakey Foundation

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