Masticatory loading and bone adaptation in the supraorbital torus of developing macaques

K. Kupczik, C.A. Dobson, R.H. Crompton, R. Phillips, Charles Oxnard, M.J. Fagan, Paul O'Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Research on the evolution and adaptive significance of primate craniofacial morphologies has focused on adult, fully developed individuals. Here, we investigate the possible relationship between the local stress environment arising from masticatory loadings and the emergence of the supraorbital torus in the developing face of the crab-eating macaque Macaca fascicularis. By using finite element analysis (FEA), we are able to evaluate the hypothesis that strain energy density (SED) magnitudes are high in subadult individuals with resulting bone growth in the supraorbital torus. We developed three micro-CT-based FEA models of M. fascicularis skulls ranging in dental age from deciduous to permanent dentitions and validated them against published experimental data. Applied masticatory muscle forces were estimated from physiological cross-sectional areas of macaque cadaveric specimens. The models were sequentially constrained at each working side tooth to simulate the variation of the bite point applied during masticatory function. Custom FEA software was used to solve the voxel-based models and SED and principal strains were computed. A physiological superposition SED map throughout the face was created by allocating to each element the maximum SED value from each of the load cases. SED values were found to be low in the supraorbital torus region throughout ontogeny, while they were consistently high in the zygomatic arch and infraorbital region. Thus, if the supraorbital torus arises to resist masticatory loads, it is either already adapted in each of our subadult models so that we do not observe high SED or a lower site-specific bone deposition threshold must apply.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-203
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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