8 Dental Adaptations of African Apes

  • Mark F. Teaford
  • Peter S. Ungar
Reference work entry


Improvements in the primate fossil record, and in methods of data acquisition and analysis, have set the stage for new insights into the development, function, and evolution of hominoid teeth. This chapter is a brief review of recent advances. In essence, genetic analyses are changing our perspectives on the evolution of morphology, while improved studies of dental development and microstructure have yielded permanent markers of developmental history and microstructural differences of functional significance. More realistic perspectives on the physical properties of foods are yielding new functional interpretations of differences in tooth size. Finally, landmark-free analyses of tooth shape and wear are giving researchers the chance to actually monitor how teeth are used in living primates and by extrapolation in fossil primates too. Through techniques such as these will come a better understanding of the intricacies of dental function and a clearer picture of our past.


Geographic Information System Tooth Wear Dental Development Mountain Gorilla Early Hominid 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank Hartmut Rothe, Winfried Henke, and Ian Tattersall for inviting us to contribute to the Handbook of Paleoanthropology. Special thanks also go to Fred Grine, Chris Dean, Hartmut Rothe, and Winfried Henke for their comments during the preparation of this manuscript. As with any review paper, this one has benefited from the help of innumerable colleagues and curators from around the world and it would not have been possible without the support of the National Science Foundation whose help is gratefully acknowledged.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark F. Teaford
  • Peter S. Ungar

There are no affiliations available

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