3 years ago

Dietary adaptations in the teeth of murine rodents (Muridae): a test of biomechanical predictions

Stephanie A. Martin, Scott J. Steppan, Bader H. Alhajeri
Functional dental theory predicts that tooth shape responds evolutionarily to the mechanical properties of food. Most studies of mammalian teeth have focused on qualitative measures of dental anatomy and have not formally tested how the functional components of teeth adapt in response to diet. Here we generated a series of predictions for tooth morphology based on biomechanical models of food processing. We used murine rodents (Old World rats and mice) to test these predictions for the relationship between diet and morphology and to identify a suite of functional dental characteristics that best predict diets. One hundred and five dental characteristics were extracted from images of the upper and lower tooth rows and incisors for 98 species. After accounting for phylogenetic relationships, we showed that species evolving plant-dominated diets evolved deeper incisors, longer third molars, longer molar crests, blunter posteriorly angled cusps, and more expanded laterally oriented occlusal cusps than species adapting to animal-dominated diets. Measures of incisor depth, crest length, cusp angle and sharpness, occlusal cusp orientation, and the lengths of third molars proved the best predictors of dietary adaptation. Accounting for evolutionary history in a phylogenetic discriminant function analysis notably improved the classification accuracy. Molar morphology is strongly correlated with diet and we suggest that these dental traits can be used to infer diet with good accuracy for both extinct and extant murine species.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/bij.12822

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.