Platyrrhine incisors and diet.

Research paper by Andrew A Deane

Indexed on: 23 May '12Published on: 23 May '12Published in: American Journal of Physical Anthropology


Despite the relatively large size of anthropoid incisors in relation to the remainder of the dental arcade, and their prominent role in the preprocessing of food prior to ingestion, comparatively little is known about the functional morphology of anthropoid incisor shape and crown curvature. The relationship between incisor allometry and diet is well documented for both platyrrhines and catarrhines; however, similar relationships between incisor shape and crown curvature have to date only been reported for living and fossil members of the superfamily Hominoidea. Given the limited taxonomic diversity among the extant members of that group, it is difficult to firmly establish the relative influence of phylogeny and dietary function in the governance of incisor crown curvature. Unlike hominoids, which are represented by only five living genera, extant platyrrhines are a more varied group that includes 16 ecologically diverse genera. In an effort to clarify the functional relationship between maxillary and mandibular incisor crown curvature and diet, this study uses high resolution polynomial curve fitting to quantify mesiodistal and cervicoincisal curvature for a taxonomically diverse platyrrhine sample (n = 133 individuals representing 18 taxa) with well documented dietary behavior. Results were consistent with prior analyses of hominoid incisor curvature and identify a significant and positive correlation between incisor crown curvature and diet such that increasing curvature is associated with a proportionate increase in frugivory. These results are independent confirmation of the results reported from a previous analysis of hominoid incisor curvature and provide new evidence to suggest that diet is the primary governing factor influencing anthropoid incisor curvature.