Differences in enamel defect expression and enamel growth variables in <em>Macaca fascicularis</em> and <em>Trachypithecus cristatus</em> from Sabah, Borneo

Publication date: February 2020

Source: Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 114

Author(s): Mackie C. O’Hara, Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg


Linear enamel hypoplasias (LEH) have been used in physical anthropology as stress indicators. While circumstances such as malnutrition and illness certainly disrupt enamel formation, intrinsic features of enamel growth may affect defect expression as well. Variation in enamel growth factors, particularly lateral enamel formation time and the angle that striae of Retzius make with the outer enamel surface, may influence the number and visibility of enamel defects on teeth of different species and sexes. Understanding how such intrinsic factors affect enamel defect expression is critical to interpreting enamel defect differences between hominin species and groups. Here, the number of LEH defects and rates of enamel defect acquisition of two sympatric cercopithecoids (Macaca fascicularis and Trachypithecus cristatus) are compared. Their enamel formation time and perikymata spacing are considered in relation to their expression of defects. Longer lateral enamel formation times are not significantly associated with higher enamel defect counts in these two species or between conspecific sexes. Perikymata spacing (which is sometimes correlated with striae of Retzius angles) does not help to explain species-level differences in number or rate of defect acquisition either. However, the greater number of defects and rate of acquisition in females of both species, coupled with tighter perikymata spacing, suggests a possible role of striae angles influencing defect perceptibility. Significantly more research regarding the role enamel growth variables play in enamel defect expression is required for LEH to be used as an informative stress indicator in bioarchaeology and paleoanthropology.