• spinner dolphin;
  • Stenella longirostris;
  • tooth characters;
  • geographic variation


Sixteen tooth characters were analyzed in 277 specimens of spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) from the eastern tropical Pacific to determine whether the characters were associated with size of the animal, species-stock membership or geographic location. The tooth characters included 5 continuous measurements and 11 qualitative variables. Statistical analyses of the characters included two-way ANOVA tests which assessed continuous measurement variables for differences based on stock membership, latitude and longitude of collection or whether the animal was collected north or south of the equator. Principal component analyses combined factors of continuous variables with those of qualitative variables into components which were used as variables in further analyses. Discriminant analyses were performed using continuous variables alone and using principal components as potentially discriminating variables. Results showed that tooth differences were not associated with size but significant differences were found in some tooth variables with stock membership, incremental changes in latitude and whether the animal was collected north or south of the equator. A discriminant function, containing only tooth length, correctly classified 67% of northern and 78% of southern animals according to location of collection north or south of the equator.