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Brief communication: Enamel thickness and durophagy in mangabeys revisited

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Abstract

The documentation of enamel thickness variation across primates is important because enamel thickness has both taxonomic and functional relevance. The Old World monkeys commonly referred to as mangabeys have figured prominently in investigations of feeding ecology and enamel thickness. In this article, we report enamel thickness values for four mangabey taxa (Cercocebus atys, Cercocebus torquatus, Lophocebus aterrimus, and Lophocebus albigena), offer revised interpretation of the significance of thick enamel in papionin evolution, and place our new data in a broader comparative framework. Our data indicate that all mangabeys have thick enamel and that the values obtained for Cercocebus and Lophocebus equal or exceed those published for most extant non-human primates. In addition, new field data combined with a current reading of the dietary literature indicate that hard foods make up a portion of the diet of every mangabey species sampled to date. Clarification on the relationship between diet and enamel thickness among mangabeys is important not only because of recognition that mangabeys are not a natural group but also because of recent arguments that explain thick enamel as an evolved response to the seasonal consumption of hard foods. Am J Phys Anthropol 147:326–333, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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