Wild Baboon Early Life Diets: Insights from Trace Elements in Teeth

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Smith, Tanya M
Arora, Manish
Bharatiya, Maya
Dirks, Wendy
Mcgraw, Scott
Austin, Christine
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2023
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Abstract

Intra-tooth patterns of trace metals barium (Ba) and strontium (Sr) have been used to infer primate nursing histories, including those of australopith-ecines and Neanderthals. Two elemental models have been proposed to determine the initiation of suckling, consumption of supplemental solid foods, and cessation of suckling. Here we employ laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) to create comprehen-sive calcium-normalized barium and strontium (Ba/Ca, Sr/Ca) concentration maps of five wild baboon M1s in order to explore assumptions underlying each model. Enamel Ba/Ca increased at birth in only 1 of 5 teeth as predicted with the initiation of suckling, while Sr/Ca decreased in 3 of 5 teeth. Postnatal Ba/Ca values were high, peaking at ~0.5 years of age and then decreasing throughout M1 crown formation; all five individ-uals showed minimal Ba/Ca values between ~1.2-1.8 years, consistent with field reports of the cessation of suckling. Enamel Sr/Ca did not support published LA-ICP-MS spot sampling inferences as these individuals’ enamel rarely showed discrete Sr/Ca secretory zonation. Increases in Sr/Ca appeared in coronal dentine beginning ~0.3-0.5 years, with varied peak value ages (~0.7-2.7 years) and no evidence of a predicted postweaning decline. Estimates of baboon weaning ages from initial Ba/Ca minima are more congruent with behavioral observations than Sr/Ca maxima, a finding consistent with studies of captive macaques of known weaning ages. Inferences of nursing histories from enamel Sr/Ca patterns alone should be reconsidered, and elevated values of Ba/Ca and Sr/Ca in teeth formed after weaning require further study as neither model fully accounts for them.

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American Journal of Biological Anthropology
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Program of the 92nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Biological Anthropologists
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DP210101913
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Cultural geography
Biological (physical) anthropology
Anthropology
Evolutionary Biology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
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Smith, TM; Arora, M; Bharatiya, M; Dirks, W; Mcgraw, S; Austin, C, Wild Baboon Early Life Diets: Insights from Trace Elements in Teeth, American Journal of Biological Anthropology, 2023, 180 (S75), pp. 166-166