Research Article

Evolutionary Biology

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 5-18

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Quantitative Genetics, Pleiotropy, and Morphological Integration in the Dentition of Papio hamadryas

  • Leslea J. HluskoAffiliated withDepartment of Integrative Biology, University of California Email author 
  • , Michael C. MahaneyAffiliated withDepartment of Genetics, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, Southwest National Primate Research Center


Variation in the mammalian dentition is highly informative of adaptations and evolutionary relationships, and consequently has been the focus of considerable research. Much of the current research exploring the genetic underpinnings of dental variation can trace its roots to Olson and Miller’s 1958 book Morphological Integration. These authors explored patterns of correlation in the post-canine dentitions of the owl monkey and Hyopsodus, an extinct condylarth from the Eocene. Their results were difficult to interpret, as was even noted by the authors, due to a lack of genetic information through which to view the patterns of correlation. Following in the spirit of Olson and Miller’s research, we present a quantitative genetic analysis of dental variation in a pedigreed population of baboons. We identify patterns of genetic correlations that provide insight to the genetic architecture of the baboon dentition. This genetic architecture indicates the presence of at least three modules: an incisor module that is genetically independent of the post-canine dentition, and a premolar module that demonstrates incomplete pleiotropy with the molar module. We then compare this matrix of genetic correlations to matrices of phenotypic correlations between the same measurements made on museum specimens of another baboon subspecies and the Southeast Asian colobine Presbytis. We observe moderate significant correlations between the matrices from these three primate taxa. From these observations we infer similarity in modularity and hypothesize a common pattern of genetic integration across the dental arcade in the Cercopithecoidea.


Dental variation Modularity Evolution Primates Genetic architecture