GROWTH LAYER PATTERNS IN TEETH FROM THE FRANCISCANA, PONTOPORIA BLAINVILLEI: DEVELOPING A MODEL FOR PRECISION IN AGE ESTIMATION

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Abstract

A model for estimating age from teeth of the franciscana, Pontoporia blainvillei, was developed using teeth from 72 specimens taken incidentally in fishing nets in Brazil and Uruguay. The goal of the model was to allow for accurate and precise age estimates for a larger sample of specimens. Growthlayer characteristics were selected on the basis of similarities in growth layers among various species of cetaceans, including those whose growth layers have been calibrated for time, and on length groups in the franciscana, which calves seasonally. Growth-layer patterns, including relative size and appearance, in both dentine and cementum did not vary by sex but did vary by the orientation of the tooth when it was sectioned. The model developed proved useful in providing guidelines for consistency in age estimation for biological studies of the larger sample of animals. We recommend the development of this type of model for other species to facilitate standardizing age estimation.

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