The teeth of some apes are formed primarily to handle the most stressful times when food is scarce, according to new research performed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The findings, published in December's American Journal of Physical Anthropology, imply that if humanity is serious about protecting its close evolutionary cousins, the food apes eat during these tough periods – and where they find it – must be included in conservation efforts.
The interdisciplinary team, which brought together anthropologists from George Washington University (GW) and fracture mechanics experts from NIST, has provided the first evidence that natural selection in three ape species has favored individuals whose teeth can most easily handle the “fallback foods” they choose when their preferred fare is less available.
Lead authors of the article were research scientist Paul Constantino (PhD Hominid Paleobiology 2007) and Prof. Peter Lucas.
For the GW News article, click here.
For the AJPA article, click here.