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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

COMPARISON OF MOLAR MORPHOLOGY FROM EXTANT CERCOPITHECID MONKEYS AND PLIOCENE PARAPAPIO FROM MAKAPANSGAT, SOUTH AFRICA USING ELLIPTICAL FOURIER ANALYSIS **

Abstract

Fossil baboon-like cercopithecid monkeys attributed to the genus Parapapio are represented at Makapansgat cave South Africa which is dated to 2.9 million years. To examine whether the size and shape of Parapapio molars are more similar to purported descendants including Cercocebus and Papio and different from more distantly related colobus monkeys, we compare three relatively unworn molars of Parapapio ( MP77, MP221 and MP223) to Cercocebus agilis (n = 11), Papio anubis (n = 10) and Colobus angolensis (n = 11). First permanent maxillary molar dental molds were cast in epoxy resin and measured using a camera microscope system to estimate buccolingual and mesiodistal lengths and occlusal area. Outlines of the occlusal surface were digitized, binarized and input into SHAPE v.2.0 to conduct elliptical Fourier analysis. The amplitudes of the harmonics generated from SHAPE were further reduced to principal components scores. Papio is larger in mesiodistal and buccolingual lengths, followed by Parapapio. Area measurements do not completely differentiate smaller Cercocebus and Colobus. In comparison, Cercocebus has mesiodistally longer molars and Colobus molars are relatively wider given the less constricted buccal and lingual lophs. The first principal components axis (PC1) accounting for 35% of the variance polarizes Parapapio and Colobus at opposite extremes from the other two taxa, whereas PC2, explaining 19.76% of the variation, partially separates Colobus from extant cercopithecines. The majority of the variation occurs on the lingual side of the molar, between the protocone and hypocone. PC3, which explains 13.92% of the variance, separates Cercocebus and Colobus from the other genera and each other with minor overlap. Results indicate the role of body size in separating cercopithecid taxa. In terms of shape, Parapapio is similar to both Papio and Cercocebus, but not particularly so and exhibits substantial variation in some aspects of molar occlusal morphology.

Acknowledgements

Funding was provided by Fulbright-Belgium and the Commission for Educational Exchange between the USA, Belgium and Luxembourg

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