Mandibular corpus strain in primates: further evidence for a functional link between symphyseal fusion and jaw-adductor muscle force

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1998 Nov;107(3):257-71. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(199811)107:3<257::AID-AJPA3>3.0.CO;2-6.


Previous work indicates that compared to adult thick-tailed galagos, adult long-tailed macaques have much more bone strain on the balancing-side mandibular corpus during unilateral isometric molar biting (Hylander [1979a] J. Morphol. 159:253-296). Recently we have confirmed in these same two species the presence of similar differences in bone-strain patterns during forceful mastication. Moreover, we have also recorded mandibular bone strain patterns in adult owl monkeys, which are slightly smaller than the galago subjects. The owl monkey data indicate the presence of a strain pattern very similar to that recorded for macaques, and quite unlike that recorded for galagos. We interpret these bone-strain pattern differences to be importantly related to differences in balancing-side jaw-adductor muscle force recruitment patterns. That is, compared to galagos, macaques and owl monkeys recruit relatively more balancing-side jaw-adductor muscle force during forceful mastication. Unlike an earlier study (Hylander [1979b] J. Morphol. 160:223-240), we are unable to estimate the actual amount of working-side muscle force relative to balancing-side muscle force (i.e., the W/B muscle force ratio) in these species because we have no reliable estimate of magnitude, direction, and precise location of the bite force during mastication. A comparison of the mastication data with the earlier data recorded during isometric molar biting, however, supports the hypothesis that the two anthropoids have a small W/B jaw-adductor muscle force ratio in comparison to thick-tailed galagos. These data also support the hypothesis that increased recruitment of balancing-side jaw-adductor muscle force in anthropoids is functionally linked to the evolution of symphyseal fusion or strengthening. Moreover, these data refute the hypothesis that the recruitment pattern differences between macaques and thick-tailed galagos are due to allometric factors. Finally, although the evolution of symphyseal fusion in primates may be linked to increased stress associated with increased balancing-side muscle force, it is currently unclear as to whether the increased force is predominately vertically directed, transversely directed, or is a near equal combination of these two force components (cf. Ravosa and Hylander [1994] In Fleagle and Kay [eds.]: Anthropoid Origins. New York: Plenum, pp. 447-468).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aotidae
  • Aotus trivirgatus
  • Facial Muscles / physiology
  • Female
  • Galago
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Mandible / physiology*
  • Mastication*
  • Species Specificity