Measuring the Toughness of Primate Foods and its Ecological Value

Peter W. Lucas, Lynn Copes, Paul J. Constantino, Erin R. Vogel, Janine Chalk, Mauricio Talebi, Mariana Landis, Mark Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations


The mechanical properties of plant foods play an important role in the feeding process, being one of many criteria for food acceptance or rejection by primates. One of the simplest justifications for this statement is the general finding that primates tend to avoid foods with high fiber. Although fiber is largely tasteless, odorless, and colorless, it imparts texture, a sensation in the mouth related to the physical properties of foods. All primates encounter such mechanical resistance when they bite into plant food, and studies on humans show that an incisal bite facilitates quick oral assessment of a property called toughness. Thus, it is feasible that primates make similar assessments of quality in this manner. Here, we review methods of measuring the toughness of primate foods, which can be used either for making general surveys of the properties of foods available to primates or for establishing the mechanisms that protect these foods from the evolved form of the dentition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)598-610
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


  • Fiber content
  • Methods
  • Plant cell walls
  • Primate feeding toughness

Cite this

Lucas, P. W., Copes, L., Constantino, P. J., Vogel, E. R., Chalk, J., Talebi, M., Landis, M., & Wagner, M. (2012). Measuring the Toughness of Primate Foods and its Ecological Value. International Journal of Primatology, 33(3), 598-610.