Scanning Microscopy


Data summarizing enamel prism shape, sire and spacing are reported for the molar enamel of 55 species of small eutherian mammals including primates, bats, tree shrews, flying lemurs, insectivorans and representatives of a variety of fossil families. Confocal photomicrographs reveal that the subsurface enamel of most species is characterized by arc-shaped prisms. The lack of a clear distinction between pattern 2 and pattern 3 prism configurations within single specimens suggests that the broad category "arc-shaped prisms" is the most appropriate descriptive grouping for these species. Of the total sample, three species exhibit only circular prisms while no evidence of prismatic enamel was found in two bats. Prism shape is not an informative phylogenetic character at the ordinal level for these morphologically primitive and relatively thin-enameled taxa. Significant differences between species in several prism sire and spacing variables (central distance between prisms, prism diameter, prism area and the ratio of prism area to estimated ameloblast area) suggest the potential for further analyses of quantitative variation to document evolutionary relationships within or among family-level groups.

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