Buccal dental microwear variability in extant African Hominoidea: taxonomy versus ecology
Most studies of microscopic wear on non-human primate teeth have focused on the occlusal surfaces of molars. Recent analyses of the buccal surfaces of human cheek teeth have demonstrated an association between diet and dental microwear on the these surfaces as well. In the current study, we examine microwear on both the buccal and lingual surfaces of non-human primate molars to assess the potential of these surfaces to reveal information concerning anthropoid feeding behaviors. We compare frequency of microwear occurrence in 12 extant and 11 fossil anthropoid species. Among the living primates, the occurrence of microwear on nonocclusal surfaces appears to relate to both diet and degree of terrestriality. The implications of this research for the inference of feeding behaviors and substrate use in fossil cercopithecoids are discussed.