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Variations in molar enamel thickness among primates

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Don Reid


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Because of its hardness, resistance to abrasion and its influence on crown morphology, molar enamel thickness is an important factor in adaptation of the dentition to the diet. Enamel thickness has also been discussed extensively in relation to the phylogenetic relationships among the hominoids. The aims of this study were: (1) to analyse enamel thickness/tooth size relationships among primates as a whole, and (2) to evaluate variations in enamel thickness among hominoids against the background of the other primates. We employed measures of tooth size, and of enamel thickness and quantity based on measurements of areas in longitudinal sections of 125 molars of 39 species. Among primates, there were two grades of enamel thickness, prosimians having thinner enamel for a given tooth size or body weight than anthropoids. The scaling of enamel thickness with tooth size and body weight tended to show positive allometry among anthropoids. Comparison of hominoid enamel thicknesses with that in anthropoids led to the conclusion that Hylobates has enamel of average thickness, Homo has thick enamel and Gorilla has thin enamel, while Pan and Pongo had average or thin enamel, depending on tooth type. These results may be relevant to considerations of hominoid evolution.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shellis RP, Beynon AD, Reid DJ, Hiiemae KM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Human Evolution

Year: 1998

Volume: 35

Issue: 4-5

Pages: 507-522

Print publication date: 01/10/1998

ISSN (print): 0047-2484

ISSN (electronic): 1095-8606

Publisher: Academic Press


DOI: 10.1006/jhev.1998.0238

PubMed id: 9774508


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