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Lucas and colleagues recently proposed a model based on fracture and deformation concepts to describe how mammalian tooth enamel may be adapted to the mechanical demands of diet (Lucas et al.: Bioessays 30[2008] 374-385). Here we review the applicability of that model by examining existing data on the food mechanical properties and enamel morphology of great apes (Pan, Pongo, and Gorilla). Particular attention is paid to whether the consumption of fallback foods is likely to play a key role in influencing great ape enamel morphology. Our results suggest that this is indeed the case. We also consider the implications of this conclusion on the evolution of the dentition of extinct hominins.


This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Lee JJ-W, Constantino PJ, Lucas PW, Lawn BR. Fracture in teeth – a diagnostic for inferring tooth function and diet. Biological Reviews 86: 959-974., which has been published in final form at [].