Buccal dental microwear variability in extant African Hominoidea: taxonomy versus ecology.


Journal Article

Buccal microwear patterns on teeth are good indicators of the abrasiveness of foodstuffs and have been used to trace the dietary habits of fossil species, including primates and hominids. However, few studies have addressed the variability of this microwear. The abrasiveness of dietary components depends not only on the hardness of the particles ingested, but also on the presence of dust and other exogenous elements introduced during food processing. These elements are responsible for the microwear typology observed on the enamel surfaces of primate teeth. Here we analyzed the variability of buccal microwear patterns in African Great Apes (Gorilla gorilla and Pan troglodytes), using tooth molds obtained from the original specimens held in several osteological collections. Our results suggest that ecological adaptations at subspecies or population level account for differences in microwear patterns, which are attributed to habitat and ecological conditions within populations rather than differences between species. The findings from studies on the variability of buccal dental microwear in extant species will contribute to a better understanding of extinct hominids' diet and ecology.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Galbany, J; Estebaranz, F; Martínez, LM; Pérez-Pérez, A

Published Date

  • July 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 50 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 221 - 230

PubMed ID

  • 19296198

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19296198

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1610-7365

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0032-8332

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s10329-009-0139-0


  • eng