Patterns of dental wear and the role of the canine in Cercopithecinae

  • Gantt D
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The importance of dental wear patterns in understanding masticatory functions in primates has long been appreciated. However, studies of wear patterns among populations of nonhuman primates are few. The purpose of this investigation is to establish the developmental aspects of dental wear in the Cercopithecinae and to describe certain relevant morphological traits. Studies were made of dental casts from 200 primate specimens of Macaca nemestrina, Macaca mulatta, and Papio cynocephalus. These casts were taken at four-month intervals, beginning at two years of age and continuing over a period of six to seven years. The wear pattern starts with the rounding and eventual flattening of the protoconid and protocone of the erupted first molars. Once this stage is reached, the hypoconid and metaconid of the mandibular, and the hypocone and paracone of the maxillary molars are rounded and eventually flattened. This pattern is maintained until the cusp tips are removed and the dentin exposed, however, the entoconid and metacone are not subjected to significant wear at this stage. Analysis of these dental casts and museum species has provided data on the development of dental wear during the maturation of these primates. The distribution of forces acting upon the teeth produce diagnostic patterns of wear, which provide evidence of force location and magnitude. In examining the data, the hypothesis of canine guidance and its limitation of mandibular motion was evaluated. Specimens whose canines were removed demonstrate that the canines play no significant role in the development or maintenance of dental wear planes.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Canine guidance
  • Enamel thickness
  • Primate teeth
  • Tooth wear

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  • David G. Gantt

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