Dental and general health in a population of wild ring-tailed lemurs: A life history approach



Data are presented on dental and general health for seven groups of wild ring-tailed lemurs, Lemur catta, from the Beza Mahafaly Reserve, in southern Madagascar. As part of a study of population demography, adults were captured, collared, and tagged, and biometric measurements, dental casts, and analyses of dental and general health were made. Results indicate that patterns of dental health vary by individual, age, sex, and habitat. Prime adults show more dental attrition than young adults. Prime males living in more marginal habitats show greater mean attrition than those living in richer habitats. Dental damage, specifically to the toothcomb, indicates that mechanical stresses to this region may include the initial harvesting of foods, in addition to grooming. Males exhibit more evidence of past trauma, including scars and chipped teeth. These results indicate that environmental as well as social factors, such as female dominance, may lead to sex differences in health patterns among lemurs. Am J Phys Anthropol 117:122–132, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.