Exploring the bioarchaeological relevance of population-specific patterns of heritability and integration in the human dentition.

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project will produce foundational knowledge about the human dentition, its development, heritability, integration, and value as a proxy measure for evolutionary relationships in the past. Couched within a regional biodistance framework, we will collect standard odontometric and morphological variables (~150-236/individual) from five distinct dental cast samples collected during the 20th century. Using associated genealogical data and quantitative genetic analyses, the project will generate a comprehensive suite of dental heritability estimates and bivariate genetic correlations that inform patterns of integration and modularity in the human dentition. The project builds on existing dental evolutionary developmental research based on murine model organisms and previously published quantitative genetic analyses of Cercopithecoid dental measurements. Here, we add a comparative human perspective to this literature. We are interested in two fundamental questions: 1) How do patterns of heritability and genetic correlation between variables differ among human populations, and 2) How do patterns of heritabilities and genetic correlations inform the analytical process that typifies regional biological distance analyses? We ultimately aim to improve our understanding of dental development through the manifestation of phenotypic variation at the inter- and intra-populational levels. We also aim to improve the practice of regional scale biodistance in bioarchaeology by integrating methodological practices with insights from quantitative genetics. Finally, this project will expand upon an existing web infrastructure that archives and disseminates high quality 3D scans, scaled 2D images, and fully anonymized genealogical records.
Effective start/end date3/15/188/31/21


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $400,737.00


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