Constraints on masticatory system evolution in anthropoid primates
Article first published online: 23 MAR 1999
Copyright © 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume 108, Issue 4, pages 483–506, April 1999
How to Cite
Spencer, M. A. (1999), Constraints on masticatory system evolution in anthropoid primates. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 108: 483–506. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199904)108:4<483::AID-AJPA7>3.0.CO;2-L
- Issue published online: 23 MAR 1999
- Article first published online: 23 MAR 1999
- Manuscript Accepted: 3 SEP 1998
- Manuscript Received: 6 MAR 1998
- National Science Foundation
- L.S.B. Leakey Foundation
- jaw biomechanics;
- bite force;
- temporomandibular joint;
It is well established that some observed patterns of force production in the primate masticatory system match those predicted by a simplified lever model. This model is also commonly invoked in adaptive explanations of craniodental diversity. However, systematic studies of the predictive power of this model are missing, leaving open the possibility that factors not traditionally included in the model alter the function and evolution of the masticatory system. One such factor was proposed for mammals generally by Greaves ( J. Zool. (Lond.) 184:271–285), who argued that the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) was poorly suited to being pulled apart. In this constrained lever model, the avoidance of joint distraction leads to limitations on masticatory system form and function. The goal of the present study was to quantify masticatory system diversity in anthropoid primates for comparison with these predictions.
Results indicate that all sampled taxa exhibit a form that is consistent with selection against regular distraction of the TMJ. Also apparent from observed patterns of scaling is a regular interaction among a limited set of cranial and dental dimensions, in accordance with the constrained model. However, the data indicate that specific positional relationships among the muscles, joints, and teeth differ from those predicted by Greaves (1978). The pattern of deviation suggests that selection has favored a conservative masticatory system configuration that safeguards the TMJ from distraction during the dynamic processing of irregular foods. The resulting buffered model leads to alternative hypotheses regarding the response of the masticatory system to dietary selection pressures. It may, therefore, improve our understanding of the adaptive significance of primate craniofacial form. Am J Phys Anthropol 108:483–506, 1999. © 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.