Testing a quick and reliable method to discriminate age classes in roe deer Capreolus capreolus on the basis of tooth wear
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Publish date: 2000-09-10
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2000;11(2)
Abstract The hunting management of roe deer in Emilia-Romagna provides the correct classification of the age classes of dead specimens, usually determined shortly after killing by hunters. The tricuspidal shape of the third lower premolar, together with the absence of the third molar greatly facilitates the classification of fawns (class 0); whereas distinguishing between yearlings (class I) and adults (class II) is very difficult, particularly in females. This paper proposes a reliable method that entails just a quick tooth inspection of the lingual crest of the third lower premolar and molar. In yearlings they were completely covered by a coat of enamel, whereas in adults this coat of enamel was eroded, so that a yellowish line of dentin, that tended to become wider with age, was clearly visible. The first lower molar of specimens previously classified on the basis of tooth wear were decalcified and dissected so that the number of annual growth rings could be counted using a microscope. By doing this, we could test the validity and reliability of our method. Fifty four specimens, 39 belonging to class I and 15 to class II, were examined and in all cases the method allowed a correct classification.