Dental topography and diets of four old world monkey species



Dental topographic analysis allows comparisons of variably worn teeth within and between species to infer relationships between dental form and diet in living primates, with implications for reconstructing feeding adaptations of fossil forms. Although analyses to date have been limited mainly to the M2s of a few primate taxa, these suggest that dental topographic analysis holds considerable promise. Still, larger samples including a greater range of species and different tooth types are needed to determine the potential of this approach. Here we examine dental topography of molar teeth of Cercocebus torquatus (n=48), Cercopithecus campbelli (n=50), Colobus polykomos (n=50), and Procolobus badius (n=50). This is the first such study of large samples of Old World monkeys, and the first to include analyses of both M1s and M2s. Average slope, relief, and surface angularity were computed and compared among tooth types, wear stages, and species. Results suggest that (1) data for M1s and M2s cannot be compared directly; (2) slope and relief decline with wear on M2s of all taxa, and M1s of the colobines, whereas angularity does not generally change except in the most worn specimens; and (3) folivorous colobines tend to have more sloping surfaces and more relief than do frugivorous cercopithecines, though angularity does not clearly separate taxa by diet. Am. J. Primatol. 71:466–477, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.