Age estimation in giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) (Carnivora: Mustelidae) using growth layer groups in canine teeth

G. C. Oliveira, J. F. M. Barcellos, F. C. W. Rosas

Abstract


The canines of six giant otters Pteronura brasiliensis (5 males and 1 female) from the zoological collection of the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) were analyzed for age estimation. Of these, two were from known-age individuals of 2 and 5 years. Ages were read counting the Growth Layer Groups (GLGs) observed in thin sections (30μm) of decalcified teeth. GLGs were present in the dentine but were not conspicuous; age estimates were only reliable when counted in the cementum. Periodicity of GLGs and age estimates were calibrated with the known-age individuals. Results revealed an annual deposition pattern of GLGs in the cementum of giant otter canines, and no apparent differences were found in the GLG patterns observed between males and females, or between captive and free-ranging individuals. The youngest and oldest giant otters analyzed were 2 and 20 years old, respectively. These results suggest that the longevity of captive giant otters is around 20 years. The age determination technique applied here proved to be useful for age estimation in giant otters and can contribute as a powerful tool for future studies on the population dynamics of P. brasiliensis, which is currently classified as endangered.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5597/lajam00120

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