Article

Primates

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 533-550

Anterior dental microwear and its relationship to diet and feeding behavior in three african primates (Pan troglodytes troglodytes, Gorilla gorilla gorilla andPapio hamadryas)

  • Alan S. RyanAffiliated withCenter for Human Growth and Development, The University of Michigan

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Abstract

Anterior dental microwear is shown to be related to diet and to feeding habits in three groups of extant African primates includingPan troglodytes troglodytes, Gorilla gorilla gorilla andPapio hamadryas. Five distinct types of incisal microwear are found in these groups. These include: fine wear striae, polish, small pits, large pits and microflakes. It is demonstrated that each species exhibits a different set of microwear types. Chimpanzees exhibit extensive pitting, mesiodistally oriented fine wear striae and small areas of polish, features of microwear that are probably related to the husking of hard fruit skins and the occasional stripping of leaves. Gorillas show large areas of polish, small pits and labiolingually oriented wear striae, a combination of features that may be associated with the stripping of leaves and pith. Baboons show extensive edge damage involving clusters of large pits and microflakes; this set of microwear types may be related to the initial chewing of gravel-laden seeds, roots and rhizomes. Microwear found on the canine/premolar complex of all three groups corresponds to the puncture-crushing and to the slicing of food.