Technical note: Dental microwear textures of “Phase I” and “Phase II” facets



The power stroke of mastication has been traditionally divided into two parts, one which precedes centric occlusion, and the other which follows it—“Phase I” and “Phase II,” respectively. Recent studies of primate mastication have called into question the role of Phase II in food processing, as they have found little muscle activity or accompanying bone strain following centric occlusion. That said, many researchers today look to Phase II facets to relate diet to patterns of dental microwear. This suggests the need to reevaluate microwear patterns on Phase I facets. Here we use texture analysis to compare and contrast microwear on facets representing both phases in three primate species with differing diets (Alouatta palliata, Cebus apella, and Lophocebus albigena). Results reaffirm that microwear patterns on Phase II facets better distinguish taxa with differing diets than do those on Phase I facets. Further, differences in microwear textures between facet types for a given taxon may themselves reflect diet. Some possible explanations for differences in microwear textures between facet types are proposed. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.