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The study of modularity can provide a foundation for integrating development into studies of phenotypic evolution. The dentition is an ideal phenotype for this as it is developmentally relatively simple, adaptively highly significant, and evolutionarily tractable through the fossil record. Here, we use phenotypic variation in the dentition to test a hypothesis about genetic modularity. Quantitative genetic analysis of size variation in the baboon dentition indicates a genetic modular framework corresponding to tooth type categories. We analyzed covariation within the dentitions of six species of Old World monkeys (OWMs) to assess the macroevolutionary extent of this framework: first by estimating variance-covariance matrices of linear tooth size, and second by performing a geometric morphometric (GM) analysis of tooth row shape. For both size and shape, we observe across OWMs a framework of anterior and postcanine modules, as well as submodularity between the molars and premolars. Our results of modularity by tooth type suggest that adult variation in the OWM dentition is influenced by early developmental processes such as odontogenesis and jaw patterning. This study presents a comparison of genotypic modules to phenotypic modules, which can be used to better understand their action across evolutionary time scales. © 2012 The Author(s). Evolution© 2012 The Society for the Study of Evolution.


Theresa M Grieco, Oliver T Rizk, Leslea J Hlusko. A modular framework characterizes micro- and macroevolution of old world monkey dentitions. Evolution; international journal of organic evolution. 2013 Jan;67(1):241-59

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PMID: 23289575

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