Brief communication: Puncture and crushing resistance scores of Tana river mangabey (Cercocebus galeritus) diet items



Cercocebus mangabeys are characterized by dental traits that have been interpreted as adaptations to eat hard diet items. Although there are data that mangabeys include a large proportion of fruit and especially seeds in their diets, no hardness measurements have been done on mangabeys' food items. This study measured puncture and crushing resistance of food items in the diet of the Tana River mangabey (C. galeritus). Feeding data were collected by the use of scan samples from one mangabey group from August 2000 to July 2001 and from July 2005 to June 2006. Food items were collected during the latter period only, and from the same tree in or under which mangabeys had been observed eating. A portable agricultural fruit tester was used to measure the puncture resistance of fruit and a valve spring tester was used to measure the crushing resistance of seeds. The average puncture resistance of fruit was 1.7 kg/mm2, and the average crushing resistance of seeds was 12.8 kg. There were no correlations between puncture resistance, crushing resistance, or all resistance scores and frequency contribution to the diet. Resistance scores measured in this study were within the range of hardness scores of fruit and exceeded hardness scores of seeds eaten by other hard object feeders. Although this study supports the interpretation that Cercocebus dental traits are adaptations to hard object feeding, future research should investigate other material properties of food, as well as the role hard diet items play in niche separation and as fallback foods. Am J Phys Anthropol 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.