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Keywords:

  • root morphology;
  • canal morphology;
  • root phenotype;
  • jaw size;
  • Pan

ABSTRACT

Premolar root form remains an important taxonomic character in hominin alpha taxonomy. Variation in detailed aspects of root structure remains poorly characterized in extant apes. This limited comparative context hinders evaluations of the significance of root form variation in hominin systematics. Using micro-computed tomography we examine morphological variation in premolars in 51 (n = 128 premolars) West African chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus). We categorize premolar root/canal form and number, based on the external root surface and pulp canal morphology, and test for a relationship between canal configuration and sex, jaw size, tooth/root size and cervix shape. Jaw size and root size/shape were quantified using standard metrics, and geometric morphometrics was used to examine root form and cervix shape. Our results confirm previous findings in external root form, but reveal previously undocumented variation in mandibular premolar canal number/form in this subspecies. The LP3 and UP4 exhibit variation in canal number/form, while the UP3 is restricted to external root configurations. The LP4 expresses only a single root/canal form. Generally, in LP3 and UP4 there is no correlation between canal form/number and sex, root size, and jaw size; UP4 canal variation covaried with cervix shape and size. Cervix size is significantly greater in three canal UP4s than two canal UP4s. Our results highlight canal form/number as an important aspect when characterizing root form. The implications of our results for the taxonomic utility of root form within the hominoid and hominin clades are discussed. Am J Phys Anthropol 150:632–646, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.