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This project aims to expand our understanding of the utility of molar outline morphology in discriminating between primate taxa as well as to determine whether there is a significant advantage to using deciduous second molars (dm2) over permanent first molars (M1). Recent research in paleontology and paleoanthropology have demonstrated the usefulness of Elliptical Fourier Analysis of molar crown outlines in distinguishing between closely related animal taxa, including hominins, mice, and pigs. I apply this methodology to three Pan taxa: Pan paniscus, Pan troglodytes troglodytes, and Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii to determine how well biological distance information gleaned from molar outline analysis aligns with existing molecular and morphometric data on Pan taxonomy.
Advisor: Emily Hammerl