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Tooth wear patterns in Neanderthals and early modern humans.

Clement, A.; (2008) Tooth wear patterns in Neanderthals and early modern humans. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

The overall aim of this project is to investigate adaptive mechanisms involved in the evolution of Neanderthal and Modern Human face morphology. This is done by using a new method to summarise tooth wear patterns in a large collection of Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene hominins. This pattern is interpreted as an indicator of the forces habitually placed on different parts of the dentition. As the characteristic Neanderthal facial morphology is often interpreted as an adaptation to strong bite force between the anterior teeth, it is hypothesised that they should be particularly heavily worn in Neanderthals, relative to the rest of the dentition. The results presented here show that all Late Pleistocene hominins had heavily worn anterior teeth and that this was more pronounced in the Modern Humans than in the Neanderthals. There was, however, a characteristic Neanderthal pattern with wear more evenly spread between anterior teeth, whereas in Modern Humans it was more strongly concentrated in the incisors. In recent hunter-gatherers teeth were an integral part of the toolkit, strongly reflected in tooth wear. Both Neanderthals and the Skhul-Qafzeh Modern Humans shared a Middle Palaeolithic technology, with a small range of tool types and heavy anterior tooth wear, but the much more variable Upper Palaeolithic toolkit did not result in a reduction. Variation between different regions however suggests that the differences are complex Epipalaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic jaws showed a reduction in the contrast between anterior and cheek tooth wear, as might be expected with the large technological changes they represent. A preliminary study was made of dental casts from Canadian Inuit whose ages and sexes were recorded. They showed much heavier anterior tooth wear than any archaeological groups. This pattern was established early in life and women had much stronger anterior wear than men. This was related to sexual division of labour and it is striking that in Neanderthals the situation seems to have been replicated.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Tooth wear patterns in Neanderthals and early modern humans.
Identifier: PQ ETD:592533
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1445215
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