, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 583-591

Allometric scaling in the postcanine dentition with reference to primate diets

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Allometric analysis of maxillary postcanine tooth area (Y) compared to adult skull length (X) in 34 species of higher primates has revealed a very close relationship. The derived least squares equation is logY=2.223 logX−2.311 with a correlation coefficient of .98. The value of 2.223 for the allometric coefficient suggests that tooth area may be in part related to the amount of food ingested.

Although most of the species examined fit this equation very closely, several could be identified as being slightly deviant. In general, the direction of this deviance can be related to known dietary preferences. Relatively large molars are found in leaf-eaters (Alouatta, Presbytis, Colobus) and in the grass and seed eatingTheropithecus. Relatively small molars are found in primates with insectivorous preferences (Cebuella, Callithrix, Saguinus, andSaimiri) and in one frugivore (Ateles).

The suggestion is made that the amount of mastication required by the preferred food is one factor in determining the most adaptive tooth size.