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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2000 Aug;112(4):469-92.

Symphyseal fusion and jaw-adductor muscle force: an EMG study.

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1
Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA. hylan001@mc.duke.edu

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to test various hypotheses about balancing-side jaw muscle recruitment patterns during mastication, with a major focus on testing the hypothesis that symphyseal fusion in anthropoids is due mainly to vertically- and/or transversely-directed jaw muscle forces. Furthermore, as the balancing-side deep masseter has been shown to play an important role in wishboning of the macaque mandibular symphysis, we test the hypothesis that primates possessing a highly mobile mandibular symphysis do not exhibit the balancing-side deep masseter firing pattern that causes wishboning of the anthropoid mandible. Finally, we also test the hypothesis that balancing-side muscle recruitment patterns are importantly related to allometric constraints associated with the evolution of increasing body size. Electromyographic (EMG) activity of the left and right superficial and deep masseters were recorded and analyzed in baboons, macaques, owl monkeys, and thick-tailed galagos. The masseter was chosen for analysis because in the frontal projection its superficial portion exerts force primarily in the vertical (dorsoventral) direction, whereas its deep portion has a relatively larger component of force in the transverse direction. The symphyseal fusion-muscle recruitment hypothesis predicts that unlike anthropoids, galagos develop bite force with relatively little contribution from their balancing-side jaw muscles. Thus, compared to galagos, anthropoids recruit a larger percentage of force from their balancing-side muscles. If true, this means that during forceful mastication, galagos should have working-side/balancing-side (W/B) EMG ratios that are relatively large, whereas anthropoids should have W/B ratios that are relatively small. The EMG data indicate that galagos do indeed have the largest average W/B ratios for both the superficial and deep masseters (2.2 and 4.4, respectively). Among the anthropoids, the average W/B ratios for the superficial and deep masseters are 1.9 and 1.0 for baboons, 1.4 and 1.0 for macaques, and both values are 1.4 for owl monkeys. Of these ratios, however, the only significant difference between thick-tailed galagos and anthropoids are those associated with the deep masseter. Furthermore, the analysis of masseter firing patterns indicates that whereas baboons, macaques and owl monkeys exhibit the deep masseter firing pattern associated with wishboning of the macaque mandibular symphysis, galagos do not exhibit this firing pattern. The allometric constraint-muscle recruitment hypothesis predicts that larger primates must recruit relatively larger amounts of balancing-side muscle force so as to develop equivalent amounts of bite force. Operationally this means that during forceful mastication, the W/B EMG ratios for the superficial and deep masseters should be negatively correlated with body size. Our analysis clearly refutes this hypothesis. As already noted, the average W/B ratios for both the superficial and deep masseter are largest in thick-tailed galagos, and not, as predicted by the allometric constraint hypothesis, in owl monkeys, an anthropoid whose body size is smaller than that of thick-tailed galagos. Our analysis also indicates that owl monkeys have W/B ratios that are small and more similar to those of the much larger-sized baboons and macaques. Thus, both the analysis of the W/B EMG ratios and the muscle firing pattern data support the hypothesis that symphyseal fusion and transversely-directed muscle force in anthropoids are functionally linked. This in turn supports the hypothesis that the evolution of symphyseal fusion in anthropoids is an adaptation to strengthen the symphysis so as to counter increased wishboning stress during forceful unilateral mastication. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)

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