June 2022: publication scientific reports

Dental macrowear reveals ecological diversity of Gorilla spp.

Size and shape variation of molar crowns in primates plays an important role in understanding how species adapted to their environment. Gorillas are commonly considered to be folivorous primates because they possess sharp cusped molars which are adapted to process fibrous leafy foods. However, the proportion of fruit in their diet can vary significantly depending on their habitats. While tooth morphology can tell us what a tooth is capable of processing, tooth wear can help us to understand how teeth have been used during mastication. The objective of this study is to explore if differences in diet at the subspecies level can be detected by the analysis of molar macrowear. We analysed a large sample of second lower molars of Grauer’s, mountain and western lowland gorilla by combining the Occlusal Fingerprint Analysis method with other dental measurements. We found that Grauer’s and western lowland gorillas are characterised by a macrowear pattern indicating a larger intake of fruit in their diet, while mountain gorilla’s macrowear is associated with the consumption of more folivorous foods. We also found that the consumption of herbaceous foods is generally associated with an increase in dentine and enamel wear, confirming the results of previous studies.

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Harty T., Berthaume M.A., Bortolini E., Evans A. R., Galbany J., Guy F., Kullmer O., Lazzari V., Romero A., Fiorenza L. 2022 – Dental macrowear reveals ecological diversity of Gorilla spp. – Sci Rep 12, 9203 – https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-12488-8

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