A dental topographic analysis of deciduous tooth wear in hominoids

Project: Research project

Project Details


A dental topographic analysis of deciduous tooth wear in hominoids A dental topographic analysis of deciduous tooth wear in hominoids. An exciting avenue of current palaeoanthropological research is the use of 3D technology to track how occlusal surfaces wear over time. Studies on primate molars revealed that the chewing surfaces and, thus their functional capabilities, were maintained over long periods of time. These results suggest that selection has acted on how teeth wear. Comparable studies on the deciduous dentition do not exist, and it is unknown if the primary teeth also wear in a manner that maintains their chewing surfaces. Actually, studies on any aspect of deciduous dental wear in primates are extremely limited. One landmark study hypothesized that the state of the deciduous attrition in great apes coincides with weaning and this information could infer the relative timing of weaning in the hominin fossil record (Aiello et al., 1991). This hypothesis has not yet been tested. The objective of this dissertation is to merge two theoretical perspectives (i.e., life history theory and functional dental morphology) to address this primary research question: In great apes, do the mandibular fourth deciduous premolars (dp4s) wear in manner that maintains their occlusal capabilities and does differential wear correlate with weaning? If functional and life history signals can be extracted from the wear patterns of dp4s, then it would suggest that selection has acted on the manner in which dp4s wear. This study has implications for early hominins as the state of attrition on the dp4s may help predict the relative timing of weaning. Given that the deciduous teeth are present across the weaning transition in apes, understanding how selection may have acted on how these teeth wear could reveal an untapped resource to learn how juveniles use their teeth to forage effectively, and thus minimize their mortality risks.
Effective start/end date1/3/131/2/14


  • Wenner-Gren Foundation: $19,465.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.