Structural Morphology of Molars in Large Mammalian Herbivores: Enamel Content Varies between Tooth PositionsReport as inadecuate




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The distribution of dental tissues in mammalian herbivores can be very different from taxon to taxon. While grazers tend to have more elaborated and complexly folded enamel ridges, browsers have less complex enamel ridges which can even be so far reduced that they are completely lost. The gradient in relative enamel content and complexity of structures has so far not been addressed within a single species. However, several studies have noted tooth position specific wear rates in small mammals rabbits, guinea pigs which may be related to individual tooth morphology. We investigate whether differentiated enamel content by tooth position is also to be found in large herbivores. We use CT-scanning techniques to quantify relative enamel content in upper and lower molar teeth of 21 large herbivorous mammal species. By using a broad approach and including both perissodactyls and artiodactyls, we address phylogenetic intraspecific differences in relative enamel content. We find that enamel is highly unevenly distributed among molars upper M1, M2, M3 and lower m1, m2, m3 in most taxa and that relative enamel content is independent of phylogeny. Overall, relative enamel content increases along the molar tooth row and is significantly higher in lower molars compared to upper molars. We relate this differential enamel content to prolonged mineralisation in the posterior tooth positions and suggest a compensatory function of m3 and M3 for functional losses of anterior teeth.



Author: Daniela E. Winkler , Thomas M. Kaiser

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/



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