The functional significance of the change in enamel thickness and microstructure shown by the molar of the European mammoth lineage is discussed. It is suggested that the extreme reduction of the enamel thickness in Mammuthus primigenius may represent an adaptation to increase occlusal pressure during mastication. Consistently, the enamel microstructure underwent a differentiation that led to a relative thickening of the layer with occlusally oriented prisms, as a probable response to the more intense abrasion caused by the increased occlusal stress. The evolution of the enamel in Mammmuthus can be interpreted as an optimisation of the occlusal structures related to a progressive specialisation towards a predominantly grazing diet.

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CC BY 3.0 NL ("Naamsvermelding")

Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam

M. P. Ferretti. (2003). Functional aspects of the enamel evolution in Mammuthus (Proboscidea, Elephantidae). Deinsea, 9(1), 111–116.