Dental microwear texture pattern has been associated with aspects of diet for a broad range of mammalian taxa. The basic idea is that soft, tough foods are sheared with a steeper angle of approach between opposing occlusal surfaces, whereas hard, brittle items are crushed with forces perpendicular to those surfaces; and this difference is manifested in anisotropic, striated microwear textures for tough foods, and complex, pitted ones for hard objects. Other factors may, however, influence microwear texture pattern and confound diet signals. For example, if tooth surface slope influences angle of approach between opposing teeth, then perhaps wear-related changes in tooth shape could affect microwear pattern. This study evaluates the effects of occlusal topography on microwear texture for a series of variably worn upper second molars of one primate species, Sapajus apella. Results indicate no significant covariation between any measured topographic attribute (average slope, angularity, relief) and microwear texture variable (complexity, anisotropy, textural fill volume). This suggests that, for this taxon at least, wear-related changes in tooth form do not affect microwear pattern in a consistent manner. This implies that variably worn teeth can be included in samples for comparisons aimed at distinguishing groups by diet.
Ungar, P. S., Hartgrove, C. L., Wimberly, A. N., & Teaford, M. F. (2017). Dental Topography and Microwear Texture in Sapajus Apella. Biosurface and Biotribology, 3 (4), 124-134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bsbt.2017.12.002
Originally published in Biosurface and Biotribology, 3(4), 124-134. The original material can be found here.
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