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      Shape, size, and quantity of ingested external abrasives influence dental microwear texture formation in guinea pigs

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          Abstract

          Food processing wears down teeth, thus affecting tooth functionality and evolutionary success. Other than intrinsic silica phytoliths, extrinsic mineral dust/grit adhering to plants causes tooth wear in mammalian herbivores. Dental microwear texture analysis (DMTA) is widely applied to infer diet from microscopic dental wear traces. The relationship between external abrasives and dental microwear texture (DMT) formation remains elusive. Feeding experiments with sheep have shown negligible effects of dust-laden grass and browse, suggesting that intrinsic properties of plants are more important. Here, we explore the effect of clay- to sand-sized mineral abrasives (quartz, volcanic ash, loess, kaolin) on DMT in a controlled feeding experiment with guinea pigs. By adding 1, 4, 5, or 8% mineral abrasives to a pelleted base diet, we test for the effect of particle size, shape, and amount on DMT. Wear by fine-grained quartz (>5/<50 µm), loess, and kaolin is not significantly different from the abrasive-free control diet. Fine silt-sized quartz (∼5 µm) results in higher surface anisotropy and lower roughness (polishing effect). Coarse-grained volcanic ash leads to significantly higher complexity, while fine sands (130 to 166 µm) result in significantly higher roughness. Complexity and roughness values exceed those from feeding experiments with guinea pigs who received plants with different phytolith content. Our results highlight that large (>95-µm) external silicate abrasives lead to distinct microscopic wear with higher roughness and complexity than caused by mineral abrasive-free herbivorous diets. Hence, high loads of mineral dust and grit in natural diets might be identified by DMTA, also in the fossil record.

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          Microwear of mammalian teeth as an indicator of diet

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            On the relationship between hypsodonty and feeding ecology in ungulate mammals, and its utility in palaeoecology.

            High-crowned (hypsodont) teeth are widely found among both extant and extinct mammalian herbivores. Extant grazing ungulates (hoofed mammals) have hypsodont teeth (a derived condition), and so extinct hypsodont forms have usually been presumed to have been grazers. Thus, hypsodonty among ungulates has, over the past 150 years, formed the basis of widespread palaeoecological interpretations, and has figured prominently in the evolutionary study of the spread of grasslands in the mid Cenozoic. However, perceived inconsistencies between levels of hypsodonty and dental wear patterns in both extant and extinct ungulates have caused some workers to reject hypsodonty as a useful predictive tool in palaeobiology, a view that we consider both misguided and premature. Despite the acknowledged association between grazing and hypsodonty, the quantitative relationship of hypsodonty to the known ecology of living ungulate species, critical in making interpretations of the fossil record, was little studied until the past two decades. Also, much of the literature on ungulate ecology relevant to understanding hypsodonty has yet to be fully incorporated into the perspectives of palaeontologists. Here we review the history and current state of our knowledge of the relationship between hypsodonty and ungulate ecology, and reassert the value of hypsodonty for our understanding of ungulate feeding behaviour. We also show how soil consumption, rather than the consumption of grass plants per se, may be the missing piece of the puzzle in understanding the observed correlation between diets, habitats, and hypsodonty in ungulates. Additionally, we show how hypsodonty may impact life-history strategies, and resolve some controversies regarding the relevance of hypsodonty to the prediction of the diets of extinct species. This in turn strengthens the utility of hypsodonty in the determination of past environmental conditions, and we provide a revised view of a traditional example of evolutionary trends in palaeobiology, that of the evolution of hypsodonty in horses and its correlation with the Miocene spread of grasslands in North America. © 2011 The Authors. Biological Reviews © 2011 Cambridge Philosophical Society.
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              Data Analysis

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                Author and article information

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                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                August 24 2020
                : 202008149
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.2008149117
                © 2020

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