Sex differences in anthropoid mandibular canine lateral enamel formation



Previous research has demonstrated that great ape and macaque males achieve large canine crown sizes primarily through extended canine growth periods. Recent work has suggested, however, that platyrrhine males may achieve larger canine sizes by accelerating rather than prolonging growth. This study tested the hypothesis that the ontogenetic pathway leading to canine sexual dimorphism in catarrhines differs from that of platyrrhines. To test this hypothesis, males and females of several catarrhine genera (Hylobates, Papio, Macaca, Cercopithecus, and Cercocebus) and three platyrrhine genera (Cebus, Ateles, and Callicebus) were compared in the number and spacing of perikymata (enamel growth increments) on their canine crowns. In addition, perikymata periodicities (the number of days of growth perikymata represent) were determined for five genera (Hylobates, Papio, Macaca, Cebus, and Ateles) using previously published as well as original data gathered for this study. The central findings are as follows: 1) males have more perikymata than females for seven of eight genera (in five of the seven, the differences are statistically significant); 2) in general, the greater the degree of sexual dimorphism, the greater the sex difference in male and female perikymata numbers; 3) there is no evidence of a systematic sex difference in primate periodicities; and 4) there is some evidence that sex differences in enamel formation rates may make a minor contribution to canine sexual dimorphism in Papio and Cercopithecus. These findings strongly suggest that in both catarrhines and platyrrhines prolongation of male canine growth is the primary mechanism by which canine crown sexual dimorphism is achieved. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.