Ontogenetic changes in bite force and gape in tufted capuchins

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School of Dental Medicine::Departmental Papers (Dental)
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Sapajus; Craniodental morphology; Feeding; Performance; Primate
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Myra F Laird; Cláudia Misue Kanno; Caitlin B Yoakum; Mariana Dutra Fogaça; Andrea B Taylor; Callum F Ross; Janine Chalk-Wilayto; Megan A Holmes; Claire E Terhune; José Américo de Oliveira

Bite force and gape are two important performance metrics of the feeding system, and these metrics are inversely related for a given muscle size because of fundamental constraints in sarcomere length-tension relationships. How these competing performance metrics change in developing primates is largely unknown. Here, we quantified in vivo bite forces and gapes across ontogeny and examined these data in relation to body mass and cranial measurements in captive tufted capuchins, Sapajus spp. Bite force and gape were also compared across geometric and mechanical properties of mechanically challenging foods to investigate relationships between bite force, gape and food accessibility (defined here as the ability to breach shelled nuts). Bite forces at a range of gapes and feeding behavioral data were collected from a cross-sectional ontogenetic series of 20 captive and semi-wild tufted capuchins at the Núcleo de Procriação de Macacos-Prego Research Center in Araçatuba, Brazil. These data were paired with body mass, photogrammetric measures of jaw length and facial width, and food geometric and material properties. Tufted capuchins with larger body masses had absolutely higher in vivo bite forces and gapes, and animals with wider faces had absolutely higher bite forces. Bite forces and gapes were significantly smaller in juveniles compared with subadults and adults. These are the first primate data to empirically demonstrate the gapes at which maximum active bite force is generated and to demonstrate relationships to food accessibility. These data advance our understanding of how primates meet the changing performance demands of the feeding system during development.

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The Journal of Experimental Biology
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The Company of Biologists Ltd
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