Dental macrowear in catarrhine primates: Variability across species

Jordi Galbany, Jean Claude Twahirwa, Laura Baiges-Sotos, Erin E. Kane, Deogratias Tuyisingize, Prince Kaleme, Aggrey Rwetsiba, Robert Bitariho, Michael R. Cranfield, Timothy G. Bromage, Antoine Mudakikwa, Tara S. Stoinski, Martha M. Robbins, Shannon C. McFarlin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Tooth macrowear is caused by a cumulative loss of enamel and dentine, principally due to attrition and abrasion, reflecting the interaction between a species’ feeding behavior and its environment. However, comparative data that would allow delineating the contribution of each of these factors are lacking. The aim of this study is to examine molar tooth wear from different primates to determine which factors can explain its variability. We calculated percent of dentine exposure (PDE) as a proxy of tooth wear, measured from standard digital photographs (N = 707) of wild specimens from 20 catarrhine primate species, living in different habitats and with different diets. Occlusal dental images were obtained from several osteologic collections and primate research sites. To compare these species, we calculated a PDE rate between molars (M3 versus M1). ANCOVA and General Linear Models showed that species differences in tooth wear rate can be explained by general diet categories, superfamily and enamel thickness. Frugivore species have significantly lower tooth wear rates than durophagous and folivore species, thick-enameled species exhibit lower tooth wear rates than thin-enameled species, and Cercopithecoidea primates express more variability in PDE than Hominoidea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780128155998
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Aging
  • Cercopithecoidea
  • Dentine exposure
  • Enamel thickness
  • Feeding ecology
  • Hominoidea
  • Tooth wear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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