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Keywords:

  • mechanical properties;
  • fracture toughness;
  • elastic modulus;
  • electromyography

Abstract

In vivo studies of jaw-muscle behavior have been integral factors in the development of our current understanding of the primate masticatory apparatus. However, even though it has been shown that food textures and mechanical properties influence jaw-muscle activity during mastication, very little effort has been made to quantify the relationship between the elicited masticatory responses of the subject and the mechanical properties of the foods that are eaten. Recent work on human mastication highlights the importance of two mechanical properties–toughness and elastic modulus (i.e., stiffness)–for food breakdown during mastication. Here we provide data on the toughness and elastic modulus of the majority of foods used in experimental studies of the nonhuman primate masticatory apparatus. Food toughness ranges from approximately 56.97 Jm−2 (apple pulp) to 4355.45 Jm−2 (prune pit). The elastic modulus of the experimental foods ranges from 0.07 MPa for gummy bears to 346 MPa for popcorn kernels. These data can help researchers studying primate mastication select among several potential foods with broadly similar mechanical properties. Moreover, they provide a framework for understanding how jaw-muscle activity varies with food mechanical properties in these studies. Am. J. Primatol. 67:329–346, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.