Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 587–598 | Cite as

First 3D Dental Topographic Analysis of the Enamel-Dentine Junction in Non-Primate Euarchontans: Contribution of the Enamel-Dentine Junction to Molar Morphology

  • Keegan R. SeligEmail author
  • Sergi López-Torres
  • Eric J. Sargis
  • Mary T. Silcox
Original Paper


Molar morphology plays a key role in the systematics and behavioral interpretation of fossil taxa, so understanding the developmental patterns that shape occlusal morphology in modern taxa is of central importance to informing analysis of the fossil record. The shape of the outer enamel surface (OES) of a tooth is largely the result of the forming and folding of the inner enamel epithelium, which is preserved in fully formed teeth as the enamel-dentine junction (EDJ). Previous research on living primates has shown that the degree of correlation between the EDJ and OES can be used to inform our understanding of developmental patterns because lower correlations imply that later developmental events modify the template provided by the EDJ more extensively. Here, we use three topographic metrics to investigate the degree of correlation between the EDJ and OES across living euarchontans by analyzing treeshrews and dermopterans in addition to primates. We found that all living euarchontans show a high degree of topographical correlation, whereas non-primates, especially basally divergent taxa such as Ptilocercus lowii, show the highest degree of correlation between these two surfaces. Our results indicate, that while it is the earlier stages of dental development that have the most influence on overall crown morphology in euarchontans generally, among primates, anthropoids have a lower degree of correlation, implying a greater emphasis on later phases of dental development. This provides insight relevant to interpreting the evolutionary context of the diversity of dental form observed within Euarchonta.


Scandentia Dermoptera Euarchonta Dental topographic metrics Dental ontogeny 



The authors would like to thank MA Schillaci for comments on an earlier version of this manuscript as well as two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. We thank SGB Chester for generously sharing scans and DM Boyer for sharing scans and helping with MorphoSource. We thank Larry Heaney of The Field Museum of Natural History for providing access to treeshrew specimens as well as curators and collections staff at the American Museum of Natural History, Duke Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, the United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution, and the Max Planck Florida Institute of Neuroscience for allowing upload of scans of specimens to MorphoSource. This research was supported by a grant from the University of Toronto Scarborough International Research Collaboration Fund and an NSERC Discovery Grant to MTS.

Institutional Abbreviations

AMNH American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, USA; EA Duke University, Evolutionary Anthropology, Durham, NC, USA; FMNH The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL, USA; MCZ Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA; MPFIN Max Planck Florida Institute of Neuroscience, Jupiter, FL, USA; USNM United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA

Supplementary material

10914_2018_9440_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (843 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 843 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keegan R. Selig
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sergi López-Torres
    • 2
  • Eric J. Sargis
    • 3
    • 4
  • Mary T. Silcox
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Roman Kozłowski Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of SciencesWarsawPoland
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Divisions of Vertebrate Zoology and Vertebrate PaleontologyPeabody Museum of Natural HistoryNew HavenUSA

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