Age-related changes in molar topography and shearing crest length in a wild population of mountain Gorillas from Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Halszka Glowacka, Shannon C. Mcfarlin, Kierstin K. Catlett, Antoine Mudakikwa, Timothy G. Bromage, Michael R. Cranfield, Tara S. Stoinski, Gary T. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: Great ape teeth must remain functional over long lifespans. The molars of the most folivorous apes, the mountain gorillas, must maintain shearing function for 40+ years while the animals consume large quantities of mechanically challenging foods. While other folivorous primates experience dental senescence, which compromises their occlusal surfaces and affects their reproductive success as they age, it is unknown whether dental senescence also occurs in mountain gorillas. In this article, we quantified and evaluated how mountain gorilla molars change throughout their long lifespans. Materials and Methods: We collected high-resolution replicas of M1s (n=15), M2s (n=13), and M3s (n=11) from a cross-sectional sample of wild mountain gorilla skeletons from the Virunga Volcanoes, ranging in age from 4 to 43 years. We employed dental topographic analyses to track how aspects of occlusal slope, angularity, relief index, and orientation patch count rotated change with age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Aging
  • Dental senescence
  • Gorilla beringei beringei
  • Tooth wear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Anatomy

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