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Keywords:

  • Allometry;
  • Dental histology;
  • Feeding;
  • Primates;
  • Cercopithecidae

Abstract

Longitudinal ground sections of 29 Old World monkey central lower incisors were studied histologically and metrically. Labiolingual incisor width tended to scale isometrically with body weight but with important deviations in relative incisor size, which appeared to be correlated with diet in accord with work by Hylander. Lower incisors of the predominantly folivorous colobine monkeys had a substantial layer of enamel on both lingual and labial aspects and consequently had blunt incisal edges. These teeth in both cercopi-thecins and papionins, which are omnivorous or frugivorous, had little or no enamel on the lingual aspect, resulting in sharp incisal edges. It is suggested that colobine incisors are used mainly in gripping and tearing leaves, whereas cercopithecine incisors are better adapted to cutting and scraping. Crown height showed a positive allometric relationship with overall incisor height, so that the tall incisors of papionins, especially Papio and Mandrillus, were more hypsodont than the shorter incisors of colobines and cercopithecins. This appears to be related to differences in the rates of incisor wear between the groups.