Great apes (orangutan, gorilla and chimpanzee) depend on their teeth to get them through tough times when food is scarce. Natural selection favor individuals with teeth that can process fallback foods, foods that are harder than the great apes normal diet of fruits. The evolution of the thickness of enamel in great apes reflects the mechanical demand of their diet.

“It makes sense if you think about it,” says GWU’s Paul Constantino. “When resources are scarce, that’s when natural selection is highly active in weeding out the less fit, so animals without the necessary equipment to get through those tough times won’t pass on their genes to the next generation.”

Read the Science Daily article, Among Apes, Teeth Are Made for the Toughest Times and The Influence of Fallback Foods on Great Ape Tooth Enamel by Constantino et al. (2009).

Originally posted on The Prancing Papio.

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