, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 543-560

Interspecific allometry of the mandible, dental arch, and molar area in anthropoid primates: Functional morphology of masticatory components

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Abstract

Allometric equations relating the lengths and widths of the mandible and dental arch, and of molar area, were obtained in a wide range of anthropoid primates grouped into four subsets, pongids, cercopithecids, nonmarmoset platyrrhines, and marmosets. Mandibular width is negatively allometric against length across anthropoids but cercopithecids had relatively wider mandibles than nonmarmosets of the same size class. Mandibular length relative to dental arch length was isometric within and between the four groups but dental arch width scaled negatively against all the other dimensions examined in this study, indicating a functional dissociation between the dental arcade and the bony mandible. Molar area showed various scaling patterns relative to mandibular length (isometry) and width (positive). There were no parameters that scaled positively against body weight across groups, except for molar area in cercopithecids (strongly) and nonmarmoset (moderately). Notable functional specializations include relatively long dental arches in cercopithecoids, related to large, elongate bilophodont molars, and the tendency to increase relative jaw length across the range of anthropoid sizes, reflecting negative allometry of the brain (cranial bicondylar width). We caution that various allometry and functional patterns may be masked by generalizing from broad taxonomic comparison involving a large sweep of adaptative patterns.