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Title: 3D tooth microwear texture analysis in fishes as a test of dietary hypotheses of durophagy
Authors: Purnell, Mark A.
Darras, Laurent P. G.
First Published: 9-Dec-2015
Publisher: IOP Publishing
Citation: Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties , 2016, 4 (1), 014006
Abstract: 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 and tooth microwear, and provides robust validation of the approach. Application of the multivariate models derived from microwear texture in Archosargus and Anarhichas to a third fish species—the cichlid Astatoreochromis alluaudi—successfully separates wild caught fish that ate hard-shelled prey from lab-raised fish that did not. This cross-taxon validation demonstrates that quantitative analysis of tooth microwear texture can differentiate between fishes with different diets even when they range widely in size, habitat, and in the structure of their trophic apparatus. The approach thus has great potential as an additional tool for dietary analysis in extant fishes, and for testing dietary hypotheses in ancient and extinct species.
DOI Link: 10.1088/2051-672X/4/1/014006
ISSN: 2051-672X
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2015. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Description: Supplementary material for this article is available online
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Geology

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