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How has the morphology of the human mandible varied in response to the dietary changes that have occurred in Britain between the Neolithic and Post-Medieval periods?

Hirst, Cara Stella; (2019) How has the morphology of the human mandible varied in response to the dietary changes that have occurred in Britain between the Neolithic and Post-Medieval periods? Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Unlike cranial morphology, human mandibular morphology has been found to be influenced primarily by environmental as opposed to genetic factors. Previous research has demonstrated that significant morphological changes have occurred in the mandible during the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions when widespread dietary changes occurred, and diet became softer. During this time the size of the mandible decreased, and mandible morphology became more gracile. This research however has typically focussed on comparisons between two time periods associated with a large dietary transition. For this reason, it is not known if the reported changes in mandible morphology represent a consistent reduction in mandibular robusticity or rather fluctuation between periods associated with dietary variability. Furthermore, it is unclear how susceptible the mandible is to smaller dietary changes. The aim of this thesis is to investigate how responsive mandible morphology is to the dietary changes that have occurred in Britain from the Neolithic through to the Post-Medieval periods. It is hypothesised that mandible morphology is responsive enough to mechanical stimuli that more minor dietary changes will also result in morphological variation. Results indicated that in general mandible morphology became increasingly gracile over time, while more pronounced morphological changes are associated with major dietary transitions such as the intensification of agriculture and the Industrial Revolution. Moreover, significant increases in gracilisation occurred between the Anglo-Saxon and Medieval period, potentially indicating that the dietary changes that occurred during the Industrial Revolution were more gradual than previous research has indicated. In addition to the more prominent morphological changes, smaller morphological fluctuations occurred such as during the Roman occupation. It is concluded that the mandible is more responsive to smaller dietary changes than demonstrated by previous research and the morphological variation associated with these major dietary transitions may not have been as simple or rapid as previously assumed.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: How has the morphology of the human mandible varied in response to the dietary changes that have occurred in Britain between the Neolithic and Post-Medieval periods?
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10078121
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