Inferences from quantitative analysis of dental microwear.

A. Walker, M. Teaford

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Tooth microwear studies have been carried out for several reasons in the last decade. Most effort has been put into categorizing wear types that reflect dietary preferences in order to reconstruct the diet of extinct species. Several studies have shown that, for primates, carnivores and ruminants, it is possible to differentiate statistically the microwear associated with the major dietary adaptations in the group. It has further been found that more subtle dietary changes, such as seasonal ones, can be picked up if the sampling is good enough. It is important to recognize that, although it may be a valuable and legitimate concern to study the specific causes of different microwear patterns, that information is not essential for dietary reconstruction, if different microwear states can be shown empirically to correspond to different dietary regimes. Image enhancement and optical diffraction methods offer hope of automated scanning of large samples. This will be a major benefit as the methods currently in use are labor-intensive and time-consuming. Finally, it is urged that as many methods as possible be used to solve problems of dietary reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-189
Number of pages13
JournalFolia primatologica; international journal of primatology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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