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Keywords:

  • dental development;
  • African great ape;
  • radiographs;
  • multivariate statistical analyses

Abstract

The timing of tooth mineralization in bonobos (Pan paniscus) is virtually uncharacterized. Analysis of these developmental features in bonobos and the possible differences with its sister species, the chimpanzee (P. troglodytes), is important to properly quantify the normal ranges of dental growth variation in closely related primate species. Understanding this variation among bonobo, chimpanzee and modern human dental development is necessary to better contextualize the life histories of extinct hominins. This study tests whether bonobos and chimpanzees are distinguished from each other by covariance among the relative timing and sequences of tooth crown initiation, mineralization, root extension, and completion. Using multivariate statistical analyses, we compared the relative timing of permanent tooth crypt formation, crown mineralization, and root extension between 34 P. paniscus and 80 P. troglodytes mandibles radiographed in lateral and occlusal views. Covariance among our 12 assigned dental scores failed to statistically distinguish between bonobos and chimpanzees. Rather than clustering by species, individuals clustered by age group (infant, younger or older juvenile, and adult). Dental scores covaried similarly between the incisors, as well as between both premolars. Conversely, covariance among dental scores distinguished the canine and each of the three molars not only from each other, but also from the rest of the anterior teeth. Our study showed no significant differences in the relative timing of permanent tooth crown and root formation between bonobos and chimpanzees. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.