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Keywords:

  • dental development;
  • developmental stress;
  • enamel defects;
  • perikymata

Abstract

Linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH), a developmental defect of enamel, increases in frequency from prosimian to monkey to lesser ape to great ape grades (Guatelli-Steinberg 2000 Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 112:395–410, [2001] Evol. Anthropol. 10:138–151; Newell 1998 Ph.D. dissertation, Temple University). This taxonomic pattern in the distribution of LEH is closely related to maturation length across the primate order (Newell 1998 Ph.D. dissertation, Temple University, 2000 Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. [Suppl.] 30:236). Longer maturation periods are associated with higher LEH frequencies; they appear to provide greater opportunity for defects to form. The present study explores the relationship between maturation length and LEH frequency within the Ceboidea. Because of its prolonged period of growth, Cebus is predicted to manifest LEH at a higher frequency than the more rapidly maturing ceboid genera. To test this hypothesis, two separate researchers (E.A.N. and D.G.-S.) examined LEH in nonoverlapping museum series of ceboids. The results support the hypothesis: in 13 genera (n = 1,276), E.A.N. found that LEH frequencies ranged from 0% in Callicebus, Cebuella, and Saimiri to 20% in Cebus. D.G.-S. found similar frequencies among five genera (n = 107), from 0% in Saimiri to 32% in Cebus. Thus, the broad pattern of LEH distribution evident across major taxonomic groups of primates is repeated within the Ceboidea. We also examined a related hypothesis linking the spacing of perikymata, which is influenced by enamel extension rates (Shellis 1998 J. Hum. Evol. 35:387–400), to LEH. The most likely areas of tooth crowns to exhibit LEH in human teeth are those in which perikymata are most closely spaced (Hillson and Bond 1997 Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 104:89–103). We hypothesized that the longer-maturing Cebus, with its elevated LEH frequency, will also exhibit more closely spaced perikymata than other ceboids. Analysis of a small microscopic subsample (n = 8) lends limited support to this second hypothesis. Am J Phys Anthropol 131:252–260, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.