Diet, Dentition, and Jaw Shape in Aotus

Siobhán B. Cooke, Zachary S. Klukkert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Early research hypothesized that Aotus was a member of a specialized guild of hard-fruit and seed-eating “sclerocarpic harvesters” based largely on their dentognathic morphology. However, these food items remain conspicuously absent in reports from the field. Here, we reconsider the morphology of the feeding apparatus of Aotus, in light of the most current ecological and morphological research, and we review functional and phylogenetic themes apparent in the dentition and mandible. Aotus exhibits broad, cebine-like incisors, relatively small, sexually dimorphic canine teeth, and molar morphology that is consistent with a mixed diet of fruit and some structural carbohydrates. The vertical depth of the corpus and other morphological signals in the Aotus mandible are inconsistent with the intensive forms of ingestion and seed predation seen in pitheciids or larger cebines. In sum, though Aotus may occasionally feed on moderately challenging foods, it lacks the morphological specializations associated with sclerocarpic harvesting in platyrrhines.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationOwl Monkeys. Biology, Adaptive Radiation, and Behavioral Ecology of the Only Nocturnal Primate in the Americas.
EditorsEduardo Fernandez-Duque
PublisherSpringer Nature
StatePublished - 14 Sep 2023

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects
PublisherSpringer Nature


  • mastication
  • diet
  • dentition
  • dental morphology
  • sclerocarpy
  • mandibular morphology
  • Feeding behavior
  • Aotus
  • Platyrrhini
  • primates
  • Cebidae


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