A molar microwear texture analysis of pitheciid primates

Anna J. Ragni, Mark F. Teaford, Peter S. Ungar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Dental microwear textures have been examined for a broad range of extant primates to assess their efficacy for reconstructing diets of fossil species. To date though, no dental microwear texture data have been published for pitheciid molars, despite reported variation in degree of sclerocarpy and, by extension, the fracture properties of foods these platyrrhines eat. While all pitheciids eat hard or tough seeds, Chiropotes and Pithecia have been documented to consume more than Callicebus. In this study, we explored whether measures of molar microwear texture complexity discriminate taxa following variation in reliance upon seeds, and whether dispersion among variables is greatest in Callicebus, which has the most variable diet. Here we report results for a study of microwear textures on M2 “Phase II” facets of Ch. satanas (N = 14), P. irrorata (N = 8), and Ca. moloch (N = 24) from the Brazilian Amazon (Oriximina, UHE Samuel, and Taperinha, respectively). Textures examined using a scanning confocal profiler showed significant differences in central tendencies for three measures: mean dale area (Sda), anisotropy (Str), and heterogeneity (HAsfc9). Ten measures showed significant differences in dispersion, with Callicebus being significantly more variable in eight of those ten. These results demonstrate that the pitheciids with different morphological adaptations and dietary reliance on seeds differ in their dental microwear textures, though less than initially hypothesized. Measures of dispersion, especially, show potential for identifying dietary variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22697
JournalAmerican journal of primatology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Callicebus
  • Chiropotes
  • New World monkeys
  • Pithecia
  • dental wear
  • diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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