Conclusions

Feeding behaviors have played a major role in the leading hypotheses of primate origins. Given this, we find it surprising that no one has systematically compared primate chewing behaviors and masticatory apparatus form, outside of the teeth, to closely related nonprimates. We find that treeshrew jaw-muscle activity patterns are more similar to representative strepsirrhines than either is to anthropoids. We argue, based on this similarity, that there is little evidence for a major shift in chewing behavior at the origin of primates. This finding suggests that if the origin of primates involved the evolution of derived traits for exploiting new foods in terminal branches (e.g., Sussman, 1991) and/or new food gathering techniques (Cartmill, 1972, 1974), then these behavioral changes occurred without altering the chewing behaviors of the earliest primates.

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