Journal Article Tooth size variation in pinniped dentitions

Wolsan, Mieczyslaw  ,  Suzuki, Satoshi  ,  Asahara, Masakazu  ,  Motokawa, Masaharu

10 ( 8 ) 2015-08-28 , Public Library of Science
It is contentious whether size variation among mammalian teeth is heterogeneous or homogeneous, whether the coefficient of variation is reliable, and whether the standard deviation of log-transformed data and the residual of standard deviation on mean variable size are useful replacements for the coefficient of variation. Most studies of tooth size variation have been on mammals with complex-crowned teeth, with relatively little attention paid to taxa with simple-crowned teeth, such as Pinnipedia. To fill this gap in knowledge and to resolve the existing controversies, we explored the variation of linear size variables (length and width) for all teeth from complete permanent dentitions of four pinniped species, two phocids (Histriophoca fasciata, Phoca largha) and two otariids (Callorhinus ursinus, Eumetopias jubatus). Size variation among these teeth was mostly heterogeneous both along the toothrow and among species. The incisors, canines, and mesial and distal postcanines were often relatively highly variable. The levels of overall dental size variation ranged from relatively low as in land carnivorans (Phoca largha and both otariids) to high (Histriophoca fasciata). Sexual size dimorphism varied among teeth and among species, with teeth being, on average, larger in males than in females. This dimorphism was more pronounced, and the canines were larger and more dimorphic relative to other teeth in the otariids than in the phocids. The coefficient of variation quantified variation reliably in most cases. The standard deviation of log-transformed data was redundant with the coefficient of variation. The residual of standard deviation on mean variable size was inaccurate when size variation was considerably heterogeneous among the compared variables, and was incomparable between species and between sexes. The existing hypotheses invoking developmental fields, occlusal complexity, and the relative timing of tooth formation and sexually dimorphic hormonal activity do not adequately explain the differential size variation along the pinniped toothrow.

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