Trabecular Anisotropy in the Primate Mandibular Condyle Is Associated with Dietary Toughness

Susan Coiner-Collier, Erin R. Vogel, Robert S. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Past attempts to establish a relationship between mandibular morphology and different dietary categories (e.g., frugivore, folivore, insectivore) have had mixed results, possibly because descriptive dietary categories are too broad and obscure variation within primate diets. Another potential reason is that not all aspects of skeletal architecture, especially trabecular anisotropy, have factored into functional assessments of dietary inputs into jaw form. Recent emphasis on quantifying food mechanical properties (FMPs) has provided an alternative to reliance on dietary categories. We used data on FMPs to test for correlations among dietary toughness and Young's modulus and the trabecular structure of the mandibular condyle, which is loaded during feeding and should reflect differences in masticatory stresses associated with different dietary FMPs. Adult primate mandibles from 11 species were imaged using high-resolution X-ray computed tomography, and trabecular structure was analyzed with BoneJ and Quant3D to assess common three-dimensional trabecular parameters. Results of phylogenetic generalized least squares analysis suggested a positive correlation between the degree of anisotropy (DA) and toughness, and weaker correlations between FMPs and various other trabecular variables. Because the DA contributes to the mechanical properties of bone, these results suggest a functional relationship between dietary toughness and trabecular anisotropy in the mandibular condyle. Such a perspective underscores the need to consider all aspects of skeletal morphology in evaluating the links between diet and jaw biomechanics. Anat Rec, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1342-1359
Number of pages18
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Biotechnology
  • Histology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • food mechanical properties
  • functional morphology
  • mandibular condyle
  • primate anatomy
  • trabecular bone


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