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Keywords:

  • dental development;
  • life history;
  • Schultz's rule

Abstract

This article uses data on the dental eruption pattern and life history of Tarsius to test the utility of Schultz's rule. Schultz's rule claims a relationship between the relative pattern of eruption and the absolute pace of dental development and life history and may be useful in reconstructing life histories in extinct primates. Here, we document an unusual eruption pattern in Tarsius combining early eruption (relative to molars) of anterior replacement teeth (P2 and incisors) and relatively late eruption of the posterior replacement teeth (C, P3, and P4). This eruption pattern does not accurately predict the “slow” pace of life documented for Tarsius [Roberts: Int J Primatol 15 (1994) 1–28], nor aspects of life history directly associated with dental development as would be expected using Schultz's rule. In Tarsius, the anterior teeth and M1 erupt at an early age and therefore are not only fast in a relative sense but also fast in an absolute sense. This seems to be related to a developmental anomaly in the deciduous precursor teeth, which are essentially skipped. This decoupling among dental eruption pattern, dental eruption pace, and life history pace in Tarsius undermines the assumptions that life histories can accurately be described as “fast” or “slow” and that dental eruption pattern alone can be used to infer overall life history pace. The relatively and absolutely early eruption of the anterior dentition may be due to the utility of these front teeth in early food acquisition rather than with the pace of life history. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.