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Enamel ridge alignment in upper molars of ruminants in relation to their natural diet


Kaiser, T M; Fickel, J; Streich, W J; Hummel, J; Clauss, Marcus (2010). Enamel ridge alignment in upper molars of ruminants in relation to their natural diet. Journal of Zoology, 281(1):12-25.

Abstract

Although it is generally thought that dental design reflects mechanical adaptations to particular diets, concrete concepts of such adaptations beyond the evolution of hypsodonty are largely missing. We investigated the alignment of enamel ridges in the occlusal molar surface of 37 ruminant species and tested for correlations with the percentage of grass in the natural diet. Independent of phylogenetic lineage, species that were either larger and/or included more grass in their natural diet showed a higher proportion of enamel ridges aligned at low angles to the direction of the chewing stroke. Possible explanations for this design are a potential alignment of grass blades in parallel to the molar tooth row, a potential increased proportion of a propalinal (anterior-posterior) chewing movement in grazers as opposed to a strictly transversal chewing stroke in browsers, and the general distribution of forces along the occlusal surface during the chewing stroke. The latter will be less heterogenous (with less force peaks) with an increasing proportion of low-angle enamel ridges. While the validity of these explanations will have to be tested in further studies, the enamel ridge alignment represents a clear signal that deviates from arbitrary distribution and hence most likely represents a functional adaptation.

Abstract

Although it is generally thought that dental design reflects mechanical adaptations to particular diets, concrete concepts of such adaptations beyond the evolution of hypsodonty are largely missing. We investigated the alignment of enamel ridges in the occlusal molar surface of 37 ruminant species and tested for correlations with the percentage of grass in the natural diet. Independent of phylogenetic lineage, species that were either larger and/or included more grass in their natural diet showed a higher proportion of enamel ridges aligned at low angles to the direction of the chewing stroke. Possible explanations for this design are a potential alignment of grass blades in parallel to the molar tooth row, a potential increased proportion of a propalinal (anterior-posterior) chewing movement in grazers as opposed to a strictly transversal chewing stroke in browsers, and the general distribution of forces along the occlusal surface during the chewing stroke. The latter will be less heterogenous (with less force peaks) with an increasing proportion of low-angle enamel ridges. While the validity of these explanations will have to be tested in further studies, the enamel ridge alignment represents a clear signal that deviates from arbitrary distribution and hence most likely represents a functional adaptation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Language:English
Date:May 2010
Deposited On:17 May 2010 10:48
Last Modified:08 Sep 2016 07:25
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0952-8369
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2009.00674.x

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