International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 551–567 | Cite as

Biomechanical scaling of mandibular dimensions in New World Monkeys

  • Marianne Bouvier


Previous studies show that folivorous Old World monkeys have shorter, deeper mandibles and shorter, wider condyles than frugivorous ones. These morphologies have been related to leaf mastication in colobines and ingestion of large, tough fruits in cercopithecines. This study examines New World monkeys in order to determine whether they exhibit similar adaptations to diet. New World monkeys have relatively long, transversely thin mandibles and somewhat deep mandibles and narrow condyles. Except for their deep mandibles, folivorous New World monkeys (i.e., Alouatta) do not exhibit the mandibular and condylar specializations typical of cercopithecid folivores. Reliance on comparatively nonfibrous foods plus alterations in masticatory muscle ratios among New World monkeys partially accounts for observed differences between folivorous New and Old World monkeys. In addition, adaptations for howling in Alouatta appear to have a significant effect on mandibular morphology. A biomechanical interpretation of craniofacial scaling patterns suggests that the mandibles of New World monkeys are subjected to lower condylar loads and considerably less twisting of the mandibular corpus than those of comparable Old World monkeys.

Key words

biomechanics mandible scaling primates 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marianne Bouvier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, LSU Dental SchoolLouisiana State University Medical CenterNew Orleans

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