Scanning Microscopy


Studies of the cross sectional packing arrangements of primate enamel prisms have been used in a number of recent studies in attempts to determine their taxonomic utility. Credibility of the results has been greatly influenced by the methods employed to examine enamel prism packing patterns and also by the limited sampling. We report here the use of a technique for the non destructive examination, in depth, of enamel prism packing patterns in modern and fossil primate teeth which has considerable advantages over any others so far used, and the preliminary results of a survey of enamel structural diversity in the Order Primates. The phylogenetic implications of these findings are also discussed.

A novel microscope, the Tandem Scanning Reflected Light Microscope (TSM) has been used. This instrument has allowed these data to be obtained non destructively which has permitted the inclusion of rare fossil primates in this survey. The technique has many advantages relating to the interpretation of the results as the specimens are not etched or otherwise prepared. Primates exhibit all three major prism packing arrangements known for recent mammals. The distribution of these permits the recognition of haplorhine from strepsirhine primates and also cercopithecoid monkeys from other catarrhines.

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