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Human Life History Evolution Explains Dissociation between the Timing of Tooth Eruption and Peak Rates of Root Growth.

Dean, MC; Cole, TJ; (2013) Human Life History Evolution Explains Dissociation between the Timing of Tooth Eruption and Peak Rates of Root Growth. PLoS One , 8 (1) , Article e54534. 10.1371/journal.pone.0054534. Green open access

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Abstract

We explored the relationship between growth in tooth root length and the modern human extended period of childhood. Tooth roots provide support to counter chewing forces and so it is advantageous to grow roots quickly to allow teeth to erupt into function as early as possible. Growth in tooth root length occurs with a characteristic spurt or peak in rate sometime between tooth crown completion and root apex closure. Here we show that in Pan troglodytes the peak in root growth rate coincides with the period of time teeth are erupting into function. However, the timing of peak root velocity in modern humans occurs earlier than expected and coincides better with estimates for tooth eruption times in Homo erectus. With more time to grow longer roots prior to eruption and smaller teeth that now require less support at the time they come into function, the root growth spurt no longer confers any advantage in modern humans. We suggest that a prolonged life history schedule eventually neutralised this adaptation some time after the appearance of Homo erectus. The root spurt persists in modern humans as an intrinsic marker event that shows selection operated, not primarily on tooth tissue growth, but on the process of tooth eruption. This demonstrates the overarching influence of life history evolution on several aspects of dental development. These new insights into tooth root growth now provide an additional line of enquiry that may contribute to future studies of more recent life history and dietary adaptations within the genus Homo.

Type: Article
Title: Human Life History Evolution Explains Dissociation between the Timing of Tooth Eruption and Peak Rates of Root Growth.
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054534
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0054534
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 Dean, Cole. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. This work was supported by grants to MCD from The Leverhulme Trust (F/07 134/F) and TJC from the Medical Research Council (MR/J004839/1). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Cell and Developmental Biology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1384268
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