Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Fred H. Smith

Committee Members

Richard Jantz, William M. Bass, Gary F. McCracken


The South American tamarin, genus Saguinus is used extensively as a model for interpreting human disease. Recently, techniques for estimating the age from skeletons of wild-caught tamarins have been requested by biomedical researchers. These skeletal aging techniques are subsequently used as an aid in documenting the timing of disease onset and latency periods.

Skeletal age changes are examined in 157 Saguinus fusaicollis and 59 Saguinus oedipus specimens of known age. The entire approximate 15 year life span of these animals is represented within the sample. The species are treated independently for all analyses. Documentation of the ontogenetic skeletal changes in immature specimens is made for the sequences and timing of dental eruption and epiphyseal union and for the chronology of long bone growth. For adult specimens, the age-related patterns associated with intracortical bone remodeling and mid-diaphyseal cortex size and shape are documented.

Results of this research indicate that the greatest accuracy for estimating age in these species is obtained within the developmental growth stage, from birth to maturity. During this stage, accurate age assignment can be made to within approximately three months. For aging adult specimens, the trends of intracortical bone remodeling and mid-diaphyseal cortex size and shape exhibit extensive intraspecies variation and thus are applicable with limited accuracy.

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