Relationships between dental topography and diet in platyrrhine primates

Team Members: Carrie Healy, Aleksis Karme, Mikeal Fortelius, Peter Ungar, Mark Teaford

Funding Source: LSB Leakey Foundation

This project involved generating and laser scanning high-resolution replicas of the upper second molars of 341 wild-caught individuals from 16 species of platyrrhine.  Specimens were grouped by reported dietary preference into frugivores, gummivores, folivores, and seed eaters.  Additional analyses were conducted on the frugivores alone, separating those that
supplement their diets with hard objects, insects, leaves, and seeds.  Results indicate that each  preferred diet type shows a distinctive combination of occlusal slope, relief, angularity,  sharpness, and orientation patch count (rotated) for given gross wear categories. Furthermore, among the frugivores, secondary diet groups were also well separated.





Development of new approaches to characterizing dental topography in mammals

Team Members: Peter Ungar, David Polly, Richard Leach, Danny Sims-Waterhouse, Sofia Catalucci

Mammalian teeth have become a model system for evolutionary, developmental, and functional biologists to explore form-function relationships and their roles in ecology and evolution.  There has, however, been no comprehensive study of relationships between dental form and function across the entire clade.   The aim of this project is to develop a portable system for scanning teeth ranging from mice to mammoths with sufficient resolution and speed to generate comparable topographic models of all mammalian dentitions.  The ultimate goal is to apply this system to species representing all higher-level clades of mammals and determine whether there are any “universal rules” by which form relates to function across the class.