Navigation Links
UMass Amherst biologists use GPS to 'map' bats teeth to explore evolutionary adaptations to diet
Date:2/18/2011

Using a method based on geographic positioning systems that allowed them to characterize the topography of the bats' molars in a way similar to how geographers characterize mountain surfaces, the researchers calculated a measure of dental complexity that reflects how "rugged" the surface of the tooth is. They illustrate a trend from relative simplicity of the shearing molars in insect eaters and omnivores to high complexity of the crushing molars in fruit eaters.

Working with field-collected bat skulls, researchers Sharlene Santana and Betsy Dumont of UMass Amherst, with Suzanne Strait of Marshall University, W. Va., compared the structure of molars across 17 species of the New World leaf-nosed bats that specialize in a variety of different diets (insects, fruits, and a combination). It's well known that mammalian tooth structure and function are strongly related to diet, but this study goes further, the authors explain, to directly measure trends in the relationships among diet, tooth structure, feeding performance and feeding behavior.

They found that the molars of fruit-eating species had sharp outer edges that likely allow them to pierce tough fruit skin and pulp, plus large surfaces with tiny indentations that may help them grind fruit pulp efficiently. By contrast, the molars of insect-eating species were less complex, possibly because of their smoother shearing surfaces. The more simply-shaped teeth would presumably be good for cutting through hard insect exoskeleton. This study is published in the Feb. 16 online issue of the journal Functional Ecology.

Santana and colleagues further tested if, within insect-eating species, higher molar complexity was related to a greater ability to crush insect prey. They fed beetles to field-caught bats, recorded their feeding behavior, then collected fecal samples to measure how well the beetles had been broken down. "We found that insect-eating bats with more complex molars were better at breaking down prey, but how much bats chewed their prey was also important," Santana and colleagues say.

Like any specialized tool, teeth are designed to match the task, in this case breaking down food. Tooth shapes are very specialized to meet specific functions, Santana explains. "However, little is known about how the structure of teeth in bats from this family evolved in relation to the types of food they eat. Across mammals, there's also little information about how differences in tooth structure among species relate to how well they perform during feeding."

"Our study highlights the functional significance of tooth structure and chewing behavior in breaking down natural prey and provides the basis for future studies relating 3D tooth structure to the animals' ability to break down food, how species divide up food resources and how those divisions evolve," they point out. This work provides a major step forward in understanding mammalian feeding systems.


'/>"/>

Contact: Janet Lathrop
jlathrop@admin.umass.edu
413-545-0444
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Mass Biologic Labs/UMass Med School and Medarex license C. difficile monoclonal antibody to Merck
2. UMass Medical School study points to genetic link in apnea of prematurity
3. UMASS Medical Schools human stem cell bank makes available first seven stem cell lines
4. Caltech biologists spy on the secret inner life of a cell
5. Biologists, educators recognize excellence in evolution education
6. Caltech geobiologists discover unique magnetic death star fossil
7. Biologists discover gene behind plant sex mystery
8. Queens University biologists find new environmental threat in North American lakes
9. Biologists learn structure, mechanism of powerful molecular motor in virus
10. Biologists discover link between CGG repeats in DNA and neurological disorders
11. Biologists solve mystery of black wolves
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016 ... "Global Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to their ... ) , ,The global gait biometrics market ... 13.98% during the period 2016-2020. Gait ... which can be used to compute factors that ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys ... founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned ... of the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology ... of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of ... to the company. Dr. Bready served as ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... and SANDY, Utah , ... which operates the highest sample volume laboratory in ... Genomics and UNIConnect, leaders in clinical sequencing informatics and ... launch of a project to establish the informatics infrastructure ... NSO has been contracted by the Ontario ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... FireflySci has been ... leading laboratories all over the globe. Their cute firefly logo has been spreading ... cuvettes, FireflySci makes spectrophotometer calibration standards that never require recalibration. These revolutionary ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... Bethesda, Md. (PRWEB) , ... May 25, 2016 ... ... a request for information (RFI) issued by the Office of the National Coordinator ... the patient experience, and determines if clinically relevant data were available when and ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2016 , ... ... attacks, diabetes, and traumatic injuries, will be accelerated by research at Worcester Polytechnic ... into engines of wound healing and tissue regeneration. , The novel method, developed ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... ... May 23, 2016 , ... PrecisionAg® ... Farming in 2017 and Beyond. The paper outlines the key trends that are ... industry. , “We’ve witnessed a lot of highs and lows as the precision ...
Breaking Biology Technology: