Previous analyses of symphyseal fusion in the extinct Malagasy lemur Archaeolemur identified several functional characteristics of joint morphology that vary postnatally (Ravosa and Simons in American Journal of Physical Anthropology 95:63-76, 1994). To complement that study, we used an imaging technique (microCT) that provides novel data on ontogenetic and local variation in biomineralization along the mandibular symphysis before complete ossification among adult Archaeolemur. Our sample of unfused symphyses comprised juveniles from the 2 earliest postnatal dental ages examined previously. We imaged each specimen (ca.18 μm volume elements) with slices parallel to the coronal plane, i.e., orthogonal to the joint articular surface. In ≤5 labiolingually equidistant joint sites, we collected 40 contiguous slices (18-μm intervals). Each of the 5 joint sites is represented by 1 slice, with biomineralization values sampled at 5 equidistant points along the articular surface and at 3 external cortical bone points. Our analysis of Archaeolemur indicates the presence of ontogenetic increases in bone mineral density accompanying increases in joint size and the number and distribution of symphyseal rugosities. Such postnatal changes are particularly marked for the middle of the joint presumed to lie adjacent to a degrading fibrocartilage pad. In Archaeolemur, labial regions of the symphysis ossify earlier and are likewise more biomineralized. Ontogenetic increases in symphyseal biomineralization, overall size, and fusion are consistent with elevated masticatory stresses owing to the postweaning shift to adult-like feeding behaviors. However, the labiolingual pattern of fusion and biomineralization in Archaeolemur appears related more to constraints on synostosis owing to the lingually located vascular supply characteristic of mammalian symphyses.
- Masticatory stress
- Subfossil lemur
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology