Indexed on: 27 Aug '14Published on: 27 Aug '14Published in: The Anatomical Record
Anthropoid incisors are large relative to the postcanine dentition and function in the preprocessing of food items. Previous analyses of anthropoid incisor allometry and shape demonstrate that incisor morphology is correlated with preferred foods and that more frugivorous anthropoids have larger and more curved incisors. Although the relationship between incisal crown curvature and preferred foods has been well documented in extant and fossil anthropoids, the functional significance of curvature variation has yet to be conclusively established. Given that an increase in crown curvature will increase maximum linear crown dimensions, and bending resistance is a function of linear crown dimensions, it is hypothesized that incisor crown curvature functons to increase incisor crown resistance to bending forces. This study uses beam theory to calculate the mesiodistal and labiolingual bending strengths of the maxillary and mandibular incisors of hominoid and platyrrhine taxa with differing diets and variable degrees of incisal curvature. Results indicate that bending strength correlates with incisal curvature and that frugivores have elevated incisor bending resistance relative to folivores. Maxillary central incisor bending strengths further discriminate platyrrhine and hominoid hard- and soft-object frugivores suggesting this crown is subjected to elevated occlusal loading relative to other incisors. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that incisor crown curvature functions to increase incisor crown resistance to bending forces but does not preclude the possibility that incisor bending strength is a composite function of multiple dentognathic variables including, but not limited to, incisor crown curvature.