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Molar scaling in strepsirrhine primates

Vinyard, C.J.; Hanna, J.

Journal of Human Evolution 49(2): 241-269

2005


ISSN/ISBN: 0047-2484
PMID: 15935438
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2005.04.002
Accession: 023053288

We examined how maxillary molar dimensions change with body and skull size estimates among 54 species of living and subfossil strepsirrhine primates. Strepsirrhine maxillary molar areas tend to scale with negative allometry, or possibly isometry, relative to body mass. This observation supports several previous scaling analyses showing that primate molar areas scale at or slightly below geometric similarity relative to body mass. Strepsirrhine molar areas do not change relative to body mass(0.75), as predicted by the metabolic scaling hypothesis. Relative to basicranial length, maxillary molar areas tend to scale with positive allometry. Previous claims that primate molar areas scale with positive allometry relative to body mass appear to rest on the incorrect assumption that skull dimensions scale isometrically with body mass. We identified specific factors that help us to better understand these observed scaling patterns. Lorisiform and lemuriform maxillary molar scaling patterns did not differ significantly, suggesting that the two infraorders had little independent influence on strepsirrhine scaling patterns. Contrary to many previous studies of primate dental allometry, we found little evidence for significant differences in molar area scaling patterns among frugivorous, folivorous, and insectivorous groups. We were able to distinguish folivorous species from frugivorous and insectivorous taxa by comparing M1 lengths and widths. Folivores tend to have a mesiodistally elongated M1 for a given buccolingual M1 width when compared to the other two dietary groups. It has recently been shown that brain mass has a strong influence on primate dental eruption rates. We extended this comparison to relative maxillary molar sizes, but found that brain mass appears to have little influence on the size of strepsirrhine molars. Alternatively, we observed a strong correlation between the relative size of the facial skull and relative molar areas among strepsirrhines. We hypothesize that this association may be underlain by a partial sharing of the patterning of development between molar and facial skull elements.

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