- Dental wear reveals to be a better tool to investigate adaptations than tooth morphology, especially for the analysis of samples from Pleistocene localities. Dental wear analysis reveals changes that dental morphology does not detect.
- These studies revealed that fossils are of value in developing an understanding of the dietary breadth and ecological versatility of species that, in recent times, are rare, endangered, and occupy only a small remnant of their former ranges.
Preparation of high-resolution molds in silicone for dental wear analysis
Using dental wear analysis (mesowear and light stereomicroscopy microwear), various species are used to reconstruct ecological adaptations and to track climatic changes through time.
Groups with a long evolutive history are interesting to analyze changes through time. The project realized on the Antilocapridae (a group endemic to North America) result from a collaboration with Gina M. Semprebon (Professor of Biology and Chair of the Science and Mathematics Department at Bay Path College, USA). All specimens available in the Frick Collection from the American Museum of Natural History (New York) were sampled. Species analyzed spanned from the early Miocene to the late Pleistocene. Results are concordant with well known trends toward increasing aridity and shifts in vegetational structure in the late Miocene–early Pliocene of North America.
From: Semprebon G. M., Rivals F. 2007. Was grass more prevalent in the pronghorn past? An assessment of the dietary adaptations of Miocene to recent Antilocapridae (Mammalia: Artiodactyla). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 253: 332-347.
A second study was undertaken on a large sample of modern caribou (Rangifer tarandus) from the Kaminuriak population of eastern Canada. The project is part of a collaboration with Nikos Solounias (Professor at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York). The modern sample was compared to fossil specimens from Pleistocene localities in North America (Alaska) and Western Europe (Caune de l’Arago in France and Salzgitter in Germany).
Microwear features on a bovid tooth (magnification x35)
From: Rivals F., Solounias N. 2007. Differences in tooth microwear of populations of caribou (Rangifer tarandus, Ruminantia, Mammalia) and implications to ecology, migration, glaciations and dental evolution. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 14: 182-192.
For further information: Florent Rivals, firstname.lastname@example.org