Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties | VOL. 4

3D tooth microwear texture analysis in fishes as a test of dietary hypotheses of durophagy

Publication Date Dec 9, 2015


An understanding of how extinct animals functioned underpins our understanding of past evolutionary events, including adaptive radiations, and the role of functional innovation and adaptation as drivers of both micro- and macroevolution. Yet analysis of function in extinct animals is fraught with difficulty. Hypotheses that interpret molariform teeth in fishes as evidence of durophagous (shell-crushing) diets provide a good example of the particular problems inherent in the methods of functional morphology. This is because the assumed close coupling of form and function upon which the approach is based is weakened by, among other things, behavioural flexibility and the absence of a clear one to one relationship between structures and functions. Here we show that ISO 25178-2 standard parameters for surface texture, derived from analysis of worn surfaces of molariform teeth of fishes, vary significantly between species that differ in the amount of hard-shelled prey they consume. Two populations of the Sheepshead Seabream (Archosargus probatocephalus) were studied. This fish is not a dietary specialist, and one of the populations is known to consume more vegetation and less hard-shelled prey than the other; this is reflected in significant differences in their microwear textures. The Archosargus populations differ significantly in their microwear from the specialist shell-crusher Anarhichas lupus (the Atlantic Wolffish). Multivariate analysis of these three groups of fishes lends further support to the relationship between diet...

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Microwear Texture
Hard-shelled Prey
Archosargus Probatocephalus
Teeth In Fishes
Anarhichas Lupus
Tooth Microwear
Trophic Apparatus
Dietary Hypotheses
Molariform Teeth
Extant Fishes

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