The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)


Investigating health effects of urbanization on macaque crania

SANA T. SAIYED1, ANDREA R. ELLER2, RITA M. AUSTIN2,3,4, STEPHANIE CANINGTON5, SABRINA B. SHOLTS2 and AGUSTIN FUENTES1.

1Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame, 2Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, 3Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma, 4Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research, University of Oklahoma, 5Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins University

April 18, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Macaques compose a widely distributed nonhuman primate genus (Macaca) that thrives in various environments, including urban environments densely populated by humans. Research demonstrates that macaques alter aspects of their behavior, such as activity and diet, to adjust to urban environments, but the evolutionary and health implications of these adjustments are not fully understood. These questions are the focus of the EMPHASIS (Environmental Mismatches in Primates: Anthropogenic Settings and Impacts Survey) project, which investigates potential evolutionary patterns using health markers on human and nonhuman primate skeletal remains from a variety of anthropogenic environments. Here we report on an EMPHASIS project that analyzed skeletal pathology and dental calculus in macaque cranial specimens (N=323) collected from urban (n=27) and rural environments (n=296) to explore potential health outcomes related to exposure to urbanization anthromes, or proximity to human establishments such as towns and residential areas. Of all specimens, rural and urban, 21% exhibited skeletal pathology, while 15% exhibited dental calculus. Chi-squared tests revealed no differences in the presence of skeletal pathology (p=0.699) or dental calculus (p=0.794) between rural and urban macaques. Our results suggest skeletal pathology and dental calculus are not clearly differentially influenced by an urban environment, yet additional research with more sampling from urban regions is needed. As macaques grow in population, and especially around urban areas, continued research on skeletal health markers may help us better understand how adaptations to anthropogenic environments affect primate health through evolutionary trade-offs.


Slides/Poster (pdf)