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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Aug 16;113(33):9262-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1605901113. Epub 2016 Jul 11.

The integration of quantitative genetics, paleontology, and neontology reveals genetic underpinnings of primate dental evolution.

Author information

1
Human Evolution Research Center, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California Berkeley, CA 94720; hlusko@berkeley.edu.
2
Human Evolution Research Center, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California Berkeley, CA 94720; Department of Anthropology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215;
3
Human Evolution Research Center, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California Berkeley, CA 94720;
4
South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute, School of Medicine, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Brownsville, TX 78520.

Abstract

Developmental genetics research on mice provides a relatively sound understanding of the genes necessary and sufficient to make mammalian teeth. However, mouse dentitions are highly derived compared with human dentitions, complicating the application of these insights to human biology. We used quantitative genetic analyses of data from living nonhuman primates and extensive osteological and paleontological collections to refine our assessment of dental phenotypes so that they better represent how the underlying genetic mechanisms actually influence anatomical variation. We identify ratios that better characterize the output of two dental genetic patterning mechanisms for primate dentitions. These two newly defined phenotypes are heritable with no measurable pleiotropic effects. When we consider how these two phenotypes vary across neontological and paleontological datasets, we find that the major Middle Miocene taxonomic shift in primate diversity is characterized by a shift in these two genetic outputs. Our results build on the mouse model by combining quantitative genetics and paleontology, and thereby elucidate how genetic mechanisms likely underlie major events in primate evolution.

KEYWORDS:

dental variation; neontology; paleontology; primates; quantitative genetics

PMID:
27402751
PMCID:
PMC4995955
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1605901113
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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