Are there two distinct types of hypocone in Eocene primates? The “pseudohypocone” of notharctines revisited

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Robert Anemone, Professor and Department Head (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Upper molars of modern humans and most extant primates have four cusps that have evolved from the original tribosphenic tooth of therian mammals. These include the three cusps of the original trigon (e.g., paracone, metacone, and protocone), and the addition of the distolingual cusp or hypocone. Among Eocene primates of the family Adapidae, a distinction has long been made between a “true” hypocone associated with the lingual cingulum (adapine form) and a “pseudohypocone” associated with the distal margin of the protocone (notharctine form). The developmental processes underlying these two types of distolingual cusp are unknown, and the validity of the distinction is based on phylogenetic utility and homology rather than cusp position, as in other mammalian groups. To address this issue we use micro-computed tomography to reveal the morphology of the hypocone and associated cusps and crests on the enamel-dentine junction (EDJ). The EDJ preserves the initial steps of tooth crown development and can be used to clarify detailed aspects of crown morphology in variably worn or damaged fossil teeth. Our study sample includes both adapine species from Europe and notharctines from North America. We confirm that the pseudohypocone found among notharctines is a true cusp since it forms as a dentine horn during crown development. Our results also confirm that these two forms of hypocone are developmentally distinct and have evolved convergently in these two primate clades. A review of the paleontological literature suggests that, in spite of the fact that homoplasy is rampant among mammalian clades with respect to the development of the hypocone, only among the notharctines do we find an alternative name for this cusp.

Additional Information

Palaeontologia Electronica, 15.3.26A
Language: English
Date: 2012
upper molars, history, modern humans, extant primates, therian mamals, eocene primates, hypocone, anthropology

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