Computed Tomography as a Method for Age Determination of Carnivora and Odontocetes with Validation from Individuals with Known Age

Sina Baier-Stegmaier*, Carsten Gundlach, Mariann Chriél, Mette Sif Hansen, Christina Vedel-Smith*, Charlotte Vikkelsø Hansen, Daniel Klingberg Johansson, Louise Birgitte Henriksen, Magnus Wahlberg, Charlotte Bie Thøstesen, Aage Kristian Olsen Alstrup, Kristian Murphy Gregersen, Cino Pertoldi, Sussie Pagh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Traditional methods for age determination of wildlife include either slicing thin sections off or grinding a tooth, both of which are laborious and invasive. Especially when it comes to ancient and valuable museum samples of rare or extinct species, non-invasive methods are preferable. In this study, X-ray micro-computed tomography (µ-CT) was verified as an alternative non-invasive method for age determination of three species within the order of Carnivora and suborders Odontoceti. Teeth from 13 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), 2 American mink (Neogale vison), and 2 harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) of known age were studied using µ-CT. The number of visible dental growth layers in the µ-CT were highly correlated with true age for all three species (R2 = 96%, p < 0.001). In addition, the Bland–Altman plot showed high agreement between the age of individuals and visible dental layers represented in 2D slices of the 3D µ-CT images. The true age of individuals was on average 0.3 (±0.6 SD) years higher than the age interpreted by the µ-CT image, and there was a 95% agreement between the true age and the age interpreted from visible dental layers in the µ-CT.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1783
JournalAnimals
Volume13
Issue number11
ISSN2076-2615
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.

Keywords

  • American mink
  • carnivore age
  • computed tomography
  • harbor porpoise
  • micro-CT
  • museum collections
  • Neogale vison
  • Phocoena phocoena
  • red fox
  • toothed whale age
  • Vulpes vulpes
  • X-ray
  • µ-CT

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