Wear and its effects on dental topography measures in howling monkeys (Alouatta palliata).

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OBJECTIVES: Three dental topography measurements: Dirichlet Normal Energy (DNE), Relief Index (RFI), and Orientation Patch Count Rotated (OPCR) are examined for their interaction with measures of wear, within and between upper and lower molars in Alouatta palliata. Potential inferences of the "dental sculpting" phenomenon are explored. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fifteen occluding pairs of howling monkey first molars (15 upper, 15 lower) opportunistically collected from La Pacifica, Costa Rica, were selected to sample wear stages ranging from unworn to heavily worn as measured by the Dentine Exposure Ratio (DER). DNE, RFI, and OPCR were measured from three-dimensional surface reconstructions (PLY files) derived from high-resolution CT scans. Relationships among the variables were tested with regression analyses. RESULTS: Upper molars have more cutting edges, exhibiting significantly higher DNE, but have significantly lower RFI values. However, the relationships among the measures are concordant across both sets of molars. DER and EDJL are curvilinearly related. DER is positively correlated with DNE, negatively correlated with RFI, and uncorrelated with OPCR. EDJL is not correlated with DNE, or RFI, but is positively correlated with OPCR among lower molars only. DISCUSSION: The relationships among these metrics suggest that howling monkey teeth adaptively engage macrowear. DNE increases with wear in this sample presumably improving food breakdown. RFI is initially high but declines with wear, suggesting that the initially high RFI safeguards against dental senescence. OPCR values in howling monkey teeth do not show a clear relationship with wear changes.





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Pampush, James D, Jackson P Spradley, Paul E Morse, Arianna R Harrington, Kari L Allen, Doug M Boyer and Richard F Kay (2016). Wear and its effects on dental topography measures in howling monkeys (Alouatta palliata). Am J Phys Anthropol, 161(4). pp. 705–721. 10.1002/ajpa.23077 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12780.

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Douglas Martin Boyer

Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology

Richard Frederick Kay

Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology

I have two areas of research:1) the evolution of primates in South America; and 2) the use of primate anatomy to reconstruct the phylogenetic history and adapations of living and extinct primates, especially Anthropoidea.

1) Evolution of primates and mammalian faunal evolution, especially in South America. For the past 30 years, I have been engaged in research in Argentina, Bolivia The Dominican Republic, Peru, and Colombia with three objectives:a) to reconstruct the evolutionary history and adaptive patterns of South America primates and other mammals; b) to establish a more precise geologic chronology for the mammalian faunas between the late Eocene and middle Miocene (between about 36 and about 15 million years ago); and c) to use anatomy and niche structure of modern mammals as a means to reconstruct the evolution of mammalian niche structure in the Neotropics.

2) Primate Anatomy. I am working to reconstruct the phylogeny of primates based (principally) on anatomical evidence; and to infer the adaptations of extinct primates based mainly on cranial and dental evidence.

Field activities
Current fieldwork is focused on the study of terrestrial biotic change in Patagonia through the 'mid-Miocene Climate Optimum' when global climate was moderate and the subtropical zone, with primates and other typically tropical vertebrates, extended their ranges up to 55 degrees of South latitude.

In this collaborative research undertaking with colleagues at University of Washington and Boise State University, the geochronology of the Santa Cruz Formation at in extreme southern Argentina is being refined using radiometric dating. Stratigraphically-controlled collections have been made of vertebrates and plant macro- and microfossils. Climate change and its impact on the biota is assessed 1) using biogeochemical analysis of stable isotopes in fossil mammalian tooth enamel; 2) by documenting changes in mammalian community structure (richness, origination and extinction rates, and ecological morphology); and 3) by documenting changes in vegetation and floral composition through the study of phytoliths. These three independent lines of evidence in a refined geochronologic framework will then be compared with similar evidence from continental sequences in the Northern Hemisphere and oceanic climatic records to improve our understanding of the timing and character of climatic change in continental high latitudes during this temporal interval.

A second field project project in its early stages is the study of the fossil vertebrates of the Amazon Basin. The latter is a collaborative effort of biologists and geologists across schools at Duke (Nicholas School) and among six North American universities. My role is to direct the vertebrate paleontology component of this project in Brazil and Amazonian Peru. The hope is to recover primates from the Oligocene through Early Miocene. New material will shed light on the phylogenetic status of African Paleogene anthropoids, one of which may be the platyrrhine sister-taxon. Also, new remains of fossil primates will help to refine hypotheses about the origins of the modern families and subfamilies of platyrrhines, all of which trace back to an Early Miocene (17-21 Ma) common ancestor. Finally, new fossil primates may further constrain the time of entry of platyrrhines into South America.

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