Innovative Approaches to the Relationship Between Diet and Mandibular Morphology in Primates

Journal Article

Attempts to establish relationships between mandibular morphology and either traditional dietary categories or geometric and material properties of primate diets have not been particularly successful. Using our conceptual framework of the feeding factors impacting mandibular morphology, we argue that this is because dietary categories and food geometric and material properties affect mandibular morphology only through intervening variables that are currently poorly understood, i. e., feeding behavior, mandibular loading, and stress and strain regimes. Our studies of 3-dimensional jaw kinematics in macaques and capuchins show that, although jaw movement profiles during chewing are affected by food material properties and species-level effects, patterns of jaw movements in these two species are broadly similar. However, because mandibular loading, stress, and strain regimes are determined by interactions between feeding behavior (such as jaw kinematics) and mandibular morphology, it is difficult to say whether these similarities in chewing kinematics also mean similarities in loading, stress, and strain. Comparative analyses of the scaling of daily feeding time and chew cycle duration reveal only weak support for the hypothesis that larger primates chew more than smaller primates. Consideration of these results suggests that better data are needed on the relationship between dietary categories, food material and geometric properties, the amount of time/cycles associated with different feeding behaviors (ingestion, premolar biting, mastication), and mandible stress and strain patterns if we are to understand fully relationships between mandibular morphology and diet in primates. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ross, CF; Iriarte-Diaz, J; Nunn, CL

Published Date

  • 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 33 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 632 - 660

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0164-0291

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s10764-012-9599-y