International Journal of Human Diversity and Evolution
Coverage: 1923-1941 (Vols. I-XIX) & 1962-2021 (Vols. 1-59)
ISSN 0323-1119 (Print)
ISSN 2570-9127 (Online)
Special Issue dedicated to the memory of Vladimír Novotný is in preparation.

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'Galbany J, Martínez LM, Pérez-Pérez A, 2004: Tooth Replication Techniques, SEM Imaging and Microwear Analysis in Primates: Methodological Obstacles. Anthropologie (Brno) 42, 1: 5-6'.
Dental microwear analyses are among the most significant techniques though which a researcher can make dietary and ecological inferences from primate fossil specimens. Hard particles, such as plant phytoliths or silica-base sands, can scratch tooth enamel surfaces during food mastication producing a dietary specific pattern of microwear on the enamel surface. The density, axis length and orientation of microwear features, either striations or pits, are highly informative of dietary habits in both extant and fossil primates. The analysis of tooth enamel surfaces requires the use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) techniques, because of its high resolution power, including gold-coating of teeth for observation. Problems arise when specimens to be analysed are unique and there is no possibility of a direct observation with an environmental microscope. Negative moulds must then be made and silicone-base components are indicated for high quality replication of enamel surfaces. A positive cast needs to be obtained, and epoxy-base resins are frequently used for their good quality and durability. However, successive silicon and epoxy replications result in the loosing of surface detail and precision. Surface observation errors can also be caused be the SEM technology itself, especially if back-scattered electrons are used instead of secondary electrons for maximizing the topographical information of enamel images. This paper reviews the most commonly used methodological approaches to tooth moulding and casting, comparing SEM micrographs of casts with actual tooth surfaces, and contrasting the reliability of SEM images for dietary interpretation of tooth microwear in both extant and fossil primates.
Scanning Electron Microscopy - Epoxy resin - Tooth cast - Polyvinylsiloxane impression - Microwear - Primates

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