Cross-sectional bone distribution in the mandibles of gouging and non-gouging platyrrhini

Christopher J. Vinyard, Timothy M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Recent morphometric analyses have led to dissimilar conclusions about whether the jaws of tree-gouging primates are designed to resist the purportedly large forces generated during this biting behavior. We further address this question by comparing the cross-sectional geometry of the mandibular corpus and symphysis in tree-gouging common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) to nongouging saddleback tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis) and squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). As might be expected, based on size, squirrel monkeys tend to have absolutely larger cross-sectional areas at each tooth location sampled, while saddleback tamarins are intermediate, followed by the smaller common marmosets. Similarly, the amount and distribution of cortical bone in squirrel monkey jaws provides them with increased ability to resist sagittal bending (I xx ) and torsion (K) in the corpus as well as coronal bending (I xx ) and shearing in the symphysis. However, when the biomechanical parameters are scaled to respective load arm estimates, there are few significant differences in relative resistance abilities among the 3 species. A power analysis indicates that we cannot statistically rule out subtle changes in marmoset jaw form linked to resisting loads during gouging. Nevertheless, our results correspond to studies in vivo of jaw loading, field data, and other comparative analyses suggesting that common marmosets do not generate relatively large bite forces during tree gouging. The 3 species are like most other anthropoids in having thinner bone on the lingual than on the buccal side of the mandibular corpus at M1. The similarity in corporal shape across anthropoids supports a hypothesized stereotypical pattern of jaw loading during chewing and may indicate a conserved pattern of mandibular growth for the suborder. Despite the overall similarity, platyrrhines may differ slightly from catarrhines in the details of their cortical bone distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1461-1490
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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