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Using a model organism (rabbits) that resembles a number of mammalian herbivores in key aspects of its chewing behaviors, we examined how variation in dietary mechanical properties a ects food breakdown during mastication. Such data have implications for understanding phenotypic variation in the mammalian feeding apparatus, particularly with respect to linking jaw form to diet-induced repetitive loading. Results indicate that chewing frequency (chews/s) is independent of food properties, whereas chewing investment (chews/g) and chewing duration(s), which are proportional to repetitive loading of the jaws, are positively related to food sti ness and toughness. In comparisons of displacement-limited and stress-limited fragmentation indices, which respectively characterize the intraoral breakdown of tough and sti foods, increases in chewing investment and duration are linked solely to sti ness. This suggests that sti er foods engender higher peak loads and increased cyclical loading. Our ndings challenge conventional wisdom by demonstrating that toughness does not, by itself, underlie increases in cyclical loading and loading duration. Instead, tough foods may be associated with such jaw-loading patterns because they must be processed in greater volumes owing to their lower nutritive quality and for longer periods of time to increase oral exposure to salivary chemicals.



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