Age and individual foraging behavior predict tooth wear in Amboseli baboons.
Teeth represent an essential component of the foraging apparatus for any mammal, and tooth wear can have significant implications for survival and reproduction. This study focuses on tooth wear in wild baboons in Amboseli, southern Kenya. We obtained mandibular and maxillary tooth impressions from 95 baboons and analyzed digital images of replicas made from these impressions. We measured tooth wear as the percent dentine exposure (PDE, the percent of the occlusal surface on which dentine was exposed), and we examined the relationship of PDE to age, behavior, and life history variables. We found that PDE increased significantly with age for both sexes in all three molar types. In females, we also tested the hypotheses that long-term patterns of feeding behavior, social dominance rank, and one measure of maternal investment (the cumulative number of months that a female had dependent infants during her lifetime) would predict tooth wear when we controlled for age. The hypothesis that feeding behavior predicted tooth wear was supported. The percent of feeding time spent consuming grass corms predicted PDE when controlling for age. However, PDE was not associated with social dominance rank or maternal investment.
Galbany, J; Altmann, J; Pérez-Pérez, A; Alberts, SC
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