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Keywords:

  • Jaw functional morphology;
  • biomechanics;
  • callitrichids;
  • marmosets;
  • tamarins

Abstract

The relationship between mandibular form and biomechanical function is a topic of significant interest to morphologists and paleontologists alike. Several previous studies have examined the morphology of the mandible in gouging and nongouging primates as a means of understanding the anatomical correlates of this feeding behavior. The goal of the current study was to quantify the trabecular bone structure of the mandibular condyle of gouging and nongouging primates to assess the functional morphology of the jaw in these animals. High-resolution computed tomography scan data were collected from the mandibles of five adult common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus), saddle-back tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis), and squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus), respectively, and various three-dimensional morphometric parameters were measured from the condylar trabecular bone. No significant differences were found among the taxa for most trabecular bone structural features. Importantly, no mechanically significant parameters, such as bone volume fraction and degree of anisotropy, were found to vary significantly between gouging and nongouging primates. The lack of significant differences in mechanically relevant structural parameters among these three platyrrhine taxa may suggest that gouging as a habitual dietary behavior does not involve significantly higher loads on the mandibular condyle than other masticatory behaviors. Alternatively, the similarities in trabecular architecture across these three taxa may indicate that trabecular bone is relatively unimportant mechanically in the condyle of these primates and therefore is functionally uninformative. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.