Overcoming the non-specificity of histological accentuated growth lines in hard tissues is an ongoing challenge. Identifying season at death and reproductive events has profound implications for evolutionary, ecological and conservation studies. Dental cementum is a mineralized tissue with yearly periodicity that continues deposition from tooth formation until death, maintaining a record spanning almost the entire life of an individual. Recent work has successfully employed elemental analysis of calcified incremental tissues to detect changes in extrinsic conditions such as diet and climate and to identify two important life-history milestones: weaning and sexual maturity. Here, we employ field-emission scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray analysis to measure the relative concentrations of calcium, phosphorous, oxygen, magnesium and sodium in the cementum of 34 teeth from seven male and female rhesus macaques with known medical and life-history information. We find that changes in relative magnesium concentrations correspond with reproductive events in females and breastfeeding in infants. Additionally, we observe seasonal calcium patterns in 77.3% of the samples.
- dental cementum
- life history
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)