Shape, size, and quantity of ingested external abrasives influence dental microwear texture formation in guinea pigs.

Research Highlight

Feeding habits of ancient herbivores revealed by guinea-pig teeth

© Carol Yepes/Getty

© Carol Yepes/Getty

The wear patterns on the teeth of guinea pigs fed different diets could help palaeontologists to reconstruct the feeding habits of fossilized plant eaters.

Both grit on plant leaves and silicate structures within the leaves contribute to the wear and tear of herbivores’ teeth. However, the relationship between the size and type of external grit and the patterns of dental wear are not well characterized.

A team that included researchers from Universität Hamburg fed guinea pigs food pellets containing different quantities, sizes and types of mineral abrasives such as clay, volcanic ash and sand.

They found that grit resulted in significantly more complex and rough wear patterns than the silicate components of plant. These patterns on fossilized teeth could reveal information about the type and size of grit eaten by ancient herbivores, and their grazing environment.

Supported content

  1. PNAS 117, 22264–22273 (2020). doi: 10.1073/pnas.2008149117
Institutions Share
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Germany 0.39
University of Zurich (UZH), Switzerland 0.33
University of Hamburg (UHH), Germany 0.20
Universitätsklinikum Leipzig, Germany 0.04
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA), Germany 0.04