The ecology of touch: Are prosimians special?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The size of the infraorbital foramen (IOF), through which the infraorbital nerve (ION) passes, has been used to infer the number of vibrissae (whiskers) an animal has, which in turn has informed phylogenetic and ecological interpretations of extinct primates. The functional signi ficance of IOF area, however, has not been tested. I present a comparison of relative IOF area among extant mammals. My results show that (1) relative IOF area is a good indicator of ION size and thus of touch sensitivity of the rostrum; (2) primates and other euarchontans have low IOF areas relative to most other mammals; (3) IOF area and vibrissal count correlate, but not strongly; and (4) among primates IOF area covaries with diet, such that frugivores have relatively larger IOFs than do folivores or insectivores. This dietary signal holds for prosimians and anthropoids, and prosimians do not have enlarged IOFs compared with anthropoids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLeaping Ahead
Subtitle of host publicationAdvances in Prosimian Biology
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781461445111
ISBN (Print)9781461445104
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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