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Folded: A toolkit to describe mammalian herbivore dentition from 2D images

AuthorsSanisidro, Óscar CSIC ORCID; Arganda-Carreras, Ignacio; Cantalapiedra, Juan L. CSIC ORCID
KeywordsDental complexity
Dental topology
Enamel orientation
Enamel thickness
Issue DateFeb-2023
PublisherBritish Ecological Society
John Wiley & Sons
CitationMethods in Ecology and Evolution 14(2): 556-568 (2023)
AbstractDental morphology is a major aspect of ecological and evolutionary studies of both extant and fossil mammalian species. Mammalian dentitions are diverse feeding systems that can be defined through continuous numerical descriptors of the enamel pattern. We developed a comprehensive toolkit to quantify complex occlusal enamel patterns from two-dimensional images of herbivore mammals, widespread in the scientific literature, in form of three novel enamel complexity descriptors: two-dimensional orientation patch count (2D OPC), enamel folding (EF), and enamel thickness (ET). Previously proposed parameters such as occlusal enamel index or indentation index are implemented as well. The current method is devised for extracting continuous variables of enamel complexity from macro and microherbivore mammalian species with conspicuous wear facets. A general case study is proposed using two clades within the Family Rhinocerotidae containing species regarded as hypsodonts. The results show that antagonist dental adaptations were achieved through disparate evolutionary strategies in both groups. To test the robustness of this tool under different practical scenarios, other mammalian groups have been evaluated as well. Additional sensitivity analyses include the impact of image size, rotation, or differences in dental wear. Our approach differs from previous 2D techniques in its affordability, versatility, and control over individual regions within each tooth while delivering continuous numerical data. Additionally, the 2D reference images required as input are widespread in the literature and easier to process in comparison to 3D data alternatives.
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