Investigations into Carnivoran Premolar Morphology and Evolution



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Carnivoran tooth evolution has been studied extensively because of the diversity within the order and their role in ecosystems. The large number of phylogenetic and functional morphological studies makes canivorans the ideal study group for dental morphology. The molars, which offer excellent data for diet and phylogenetic reconstructions, are the main focus of most tooth morphological studies. This study focused on the carnivoran premolar variability because of the premolars’ potential to have a wide range of morphologies. The anterior premolars do not occlude with one another, potentially allowing them more morphological freedom. Premolars of carnivorans were found to be more variable in their shapes but not their sizes compared with rest of the dentition. Fluctuating asymmetry was found to be the same in premolars and molars, suggesting a consistent amount of developmental controls. Regressions showed that there was a correlation between premolar and molar size and premolar and molar length. The conclusions of this study suggest that the premolars are part of their own morphogenetic field that is influenced by other factors such as occlusion and dietary needs. The relationship within the tooth row of carnivorans cannot be simply explained by one morphological or developmental theory.



morphology, carnivorans, Carnivora, premolars, molars, dentition