Article

New methodology to reconstruct in 2-D the cuspal enamel of modern human lower molars

Authors:
  • Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales
  • National Research Center on Human Evolution, Burgos, Spain
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Abstract and Figures

Objectives: In the last years different methodologies have been developed to reconstruct worn teeth. In this article, we propose a new 2-D methodology to reconstruct the worn enamel of lower molars. Our main goals are to reconstruct molars with a high level of accuracy when measuring relevant histological variables and to validate the methodology calculating the errors associated with the measurements. Methods: This methodology is based on polynomial regression equations, and has been validated using two different dental variables: cuspal enamel thickness and crown height of the protoconid. In order to perform the validation process, simulated worn modern human molars were employed. The associated errors of the measurements were also estimated applying methodologies previously proposed by other authors. Results: The mean percentage error estimated in reconstructed molars for these two variables in comparison with their own real values is -2.17% for the cuspal enamel thickness of the protoconid and -3.18% for the crown height of the protoconid. This error significantly improves the results of other methodologies, both in the interobserver error and in the accuracy of the measurements. Conclusions: The new methodology based on polynomial regressions can be confidently applied to the reconstruction of cuspal enamel of lower molars, as it improves the accuracy of the measurements and reduces the interobserver error. The present study shows that it is important to validate all methodologies in order to know the associated errors. This new methodology can be easily exportable to other modern human populations, the human fossil record and forensic sciences.
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Dental tissues provide important insights into aspects of hominid palaeobiology that are otherwise difficult to obtain from studies of the bony skeleton. Tooth enamel is formed by ameloblasts, which demonstrate daily secretory rhythms developing tissue-specific structures known as cross striations, and longer period markings called striae of Retzius. These enamel features were studied in the molars of two well known South African hominid species, Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus. Using newly developed portable confocal microscopy, we have obtained cross striation periodicities (number of cross striations between adjacent striae) for the largest sample of hominid teeth reported to date. These data indicate a mean periodicity of seven days in these small-bodied hominids. Important differences were observed in the inferred mechanisms of enamel development between these taxa. Ameloblasts maintain high rates of differentiation throughout cervical enamel development in P. robustus but not in A. africanus. In our sample, there were fewer lateral striae of Retzius in P. robustus than in A. africanus. In a molar of P. robustus, lateral enamel formed in a much shorter time than cuspal enamel, and the opposite was observed in two molars of A. africanus. In spite of the greater occlusal area and enamel thickness of the molars of both fossil species compared with modern humans, the total crown formation time of these three fossil molars was shorter than the corresponding tooth type in modern humans. Our results provide support for previous conclusions that molar crown formation time was short in Plio-Pleistocene hominids, and strongly suggest the presence of different mechanisms of amelogenesis, and thus tooth development, in these taxa.
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Growth and development are both fundamental components of demographic structure and life history strategy. Together with information about developmental timing they ultimately contribute to a better understanding of Neanderthal extinction. Primate molar tooth development tracks the pace of life history evolution most closely, and tooth histology reveals a record of birth as well as the timing of crown and root growth. High-resolution micro-computed tomography now allows us to image complex structures and uncover subtle differences in adult tooth morphology that are determined early in embryonic development. Here we show that the timing of molar crown and root completion in Neanderthals matches those known for modern humans but that a more complex enamel-dentine junction morphology and a late peak in root extension rate sets them apart. Previous predictions about Neanderthal growth, based only on anterior tooth surfaces, were necessarily speculative. These data are the first on internal molar microstructure; they firmly place key Neanderthal life history variables within those known for modern humans.
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The shape of the enamel-dentine junction (EDJ) in primate molars is regarded as a potential indicator of phylogenetic relatedness because it may be morphologically more conservative than the outer enamel surface (OES), and it may preserve vestigial features (e.g., cuspules, accessory ridges, and remnants of cingula) that are not manifest at the OES. Qualitative accounts of dentine-horn morphology occasionally appear in character analyses, but little has been done to quantify EDJ shape in a broad taxonomic sample. In this study, we examine homologous planar sections of maxillary molars to investigate whether measurements describing EDJ morphology reliably group extant anthropoid taxa, and we extend this technique to a small sample of fossil catarrhine molars to assess the utility of these measurements in the classification of fossil teeth. Although certain aspects of the EDJ are variable within a taxon, a taxon-specific cross-sectional EDJ configuration predominates. A discriminant function analysis classified extant taxa successfully, suggesting that EDJ shape may a reliable indicator of phyletic affinity. When considered in conjunction with aspects of molar morphology, such as developmental features and enamel thickness, EDJ shape may be a useful tool for the taxonomic assessment of fossil molars.
Book
Teeth are one of the best sources of evidence for both identification and studies of demography, biological relationships and health in ancient human communities. This text introduces the complex biology of teeth and provides a practical guide to the: • excavation, cleaning, storage and recording of dental remains • identification of human teeth including those in a worn or fragmentary state • methods for studying variation in tooth morphology • study of microscopic internal and external structure of dental tissues, and methods of age-determination • estimation of age-at-death from dental development, tooth wear and dental histology • recording of dental disease in archaeological and museum collections Dental Anthropology is the text for students and researchers in anthropology and archaeology, together with others interested in dental remains from archaeological sites, museum collections or forensic cases.
Thesis
Metrical methods for describing the variance in extant hominoids are applied to phenetic groupings of later Miocene hominoids in order to produce palaeospecies whose variance is compatible with that seen in living hominoids. Enamel thickness measurements are presented for samples of living and fossil hominoids. An index of relative enamel thickness scaled for size has been developed and this defined four categories of relative enamel thickness metrically: Thin enamel (mean values of relative enamel thickness between 8.90 and 11.30), intermediate/ thin enamel (mean values between 11.30 and 14.65), intermediate/ thick enamel (mean values between 14.65 and 17.25), and thick enamel (mean values between 17.70 and 26.20). Thin enamel has been found in Pan, Gorilla and Hylobates; intermediate/thick enamel is found in Pongo; and thick enamel is found in Homo. Thick enamel is also found in Sivapithecus (17.73 - 21.69). The distribution of enamel prism packing patterns at different depths in hominoid enamel show that Homo, Hylobates and Sivapithecus have almost entirely Pattern 3 enamel. Pongo has an outer thickness (less than 25%) of Pattern 1 enamel, and Pan and Gorilla have an outer (40%) thickness of Pattern 1 enamel overlying the Pattern 3 enamel. Pattern 3 enamel in hominoids is formed quickly (5-7μm per day) and has well marked Hunter-Schreger bands. Pattern 1 enamel is formed slowly (less than 2μm per day) and has no Hunter-Schreger bands. On the basis of these new data the commonancestral condition of hominoid enamel has been shown to be thin enamel which formed at the fast (Pattern 3) rate. The common ancestor of the great ape and human clade had thick enamel which formed at the fast (Pattern 3) rate, and this was primitively retained in the common ancestor of the African ape and man clade and in the exclusively hominid clade. The common ancestor of the African apes had thin enamel, a large proportion of which (40%) formed at the slow (Pattern 1) rate. Thick Pattern 3 enamel evolved non-adaptively through the relative increase in dental developmental period, and dietary factors were only of subsequent importance in the maintenance of thick enamel.
Article
It is generally accepted that from the late Middle to the early Late Pleistocene (∼340-90 ka BP), Neanderthals were occupying Europe and Western Asia, whereas anatomically modern humans were present in the African continent. In contrast, the paucity of hominin fossil evidence from East Asia from this period impedes a complete evolutionary picture of the genus Homo, as well as assessment of the possible contribution of or interaction with Asian hominins in the evolution of Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis. Here we present a comparative study of a hominin dental sample recovered from the Xujiayao site, in Northern China, attributed to the early Late Pleistocene (MIS 5 to 4). Our dental study reveals a mosaic of primitive and derived dental features for the Xujiayao hominins that can be summarized as follows: i) they are different from archaic and recent modern humans, ii) they present some features that are common but not exclusive to the Neanderthal lineage, and iii) they retain some primitive conformations classically found in East Asian Early and Middle Pleistocene hominins despite their young geological age. Thus, our study evinces the existence in China of a population of unclear taxonomic status with regard to other contemporary populations such as H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis. The morphological and metric studies of the Xujiayao teeth expand the variability known for early Late Pleistocene hominin fossils and suggest the possibility that a primitive hominin lineage may have survived late into the Late Pleistocene in China. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Article
The study of enamel thickness has received considerable attention in regard to the taxonomic, phylogenetic and dietary assessment of human and non-human primates. Recent developments based on two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) digital techniques have facilitated accurate analyses, preserving the original object from invasive procedures. Various digital protocols have been proposed. These include several procedures based on manual handling of the virtual models and technical shortcomings, which prevent other scholars from confidently reproducing the entire digital protocol. There is a compelling need for standard, reproducible, and well-tailored protocols for the digital analysis of 2D and 3D dental enamel thickness. In this contribution we provide essential guidelines for the digital computation of 2D and 3D enamel thickness in hominoid molars, premolars, canines and incisors. We modify previous techniques suggested for 2D analysis and we develop a new approach for 3D analysis that can also be applied to premolars and anterior teeth. For each tooth class, the cervical line should be considered as the fundamental morphological feature both to isolate the crown from the root (for 3D analysis) and to define the direction of the cross-sections (for 2D analysis). Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Article
Enamel thickness was investigated in the mesial cusp section of 167 unworn human molars by means of non-destructive micro-CT based methodology. Serial sections of the entire crown were taken at a voxel resolution of 28 microns, and the initial volume data set of each molar was standardized in orientation to obtain a vertical section that accurately contains the dentine tips of the two mesial cusps. Enamel thickness at the cusp tips, occlusal basin, and lateral crown face was measured in the mesial cusp section and in sections offset from that section by 0.6 mm. We found that thickness at the cusp tips may be overestimated in offset sections by up to about I mm, and those of the occlusal basin overestimated or underestimated by up to about 0.5 mm. We also found that maximum 'radial' thickness of the lateral crown face was least affected by section position, usually with discrepancies of less than about 0.1-0.2 mm. In all serial positions in both upper and lower molars, a 'functional' (lingual in uppers and buccal in lowers) to 'non-functional' side gradient in enamel thickness was observed in cusp tip, occlusal basin, and lateral crown face enamel, with the exception of the characteristically thin enamel at the protoconid and paracone cusp tips. Serial differences in thickness were seen between the thinner M1 and the two posterior molars in many but not all measures of thickness, the pattern of which appears to be influenced by the thin M I mesiobuccal cusp enamel. Individual variation of maximum lateral thickness, the least variable measure of thickness, was found to be substantial (a 30-60% range) even with serial and buccolingual positions controlled. Correlation between whole crown average enamel thickness and maximum lateral thickness was high, indicating that the latter is a potentially useful predictor of overall enamel thickness of the molar crown. The present results indicate that interspecific comparisons of enamel thickness must be made with careful attention to positional placement of thickness measures, potential serial differences, and intraspecific variation.
Article
Molar enamel thickness is a key feature in the study of hominid evolution. Our understanding of enamel thickness and distribution patterns, however, has so far been based mostly on the limited information available from physical cross sections of the crown. In this study, the 3-dimensional (3D) whole crown enamel distribution pattern was explored in 74 extant great ape and modem human molars. Serial cross sections obtained from microfocal X-ray computed tomography were used to generate digital molar reconstructions at 50 to 80 micron voxel resolution, each crown represented by two to five million voxels. Surface data of both enamel dentine junction (EDJ) and outer enamel were extracted to derive volumetric measures, surface areas, curvilinear distances, and whole crown radial thickness maps. Three-dimensional average enamel thickness (AET) was defined as enamel volume divided by EDJ surface area. In 3D AET relative to tooth size, Homo exhibited the thickest, Gorilla the thinnest, and Pan and Pongo intermediately thick enamel. This result differs from previous claims that molar enamel of Pongo is relatively thicker than that of Pan. The discrepancy between three and two-dimensional (2D) values of AET stems from a combination of local differences in within tooth enamel distribution pattern and EDJ topography between Pan and Pongo molars. It demonstrates that 2D AET is not an appropriate substitute or estimator of whole crown AET. Examination of whole crown 3D distributions of molar enamel revealed a pattern common to all four examined species, the "functional" side of the molar having thicker enamel than the opposite side. However, some unique aspects of each species were also apparent. While the Gorilla molar has relatively thin enamel throughout its crown, Pan molars are characterized by particularly thin enamel in the occlusal fovea, and Pongo molars by an accentuation of relatively thin basal and thick occlusal enamel. Human molars are characterized by relatively thick enamel throughout the crown, with relatively large contrasts between buccal and lingual, and between mesial and distal crown portions. The ancestral condition common to the four extant species can be estimated by interpreting molar enamel distribution patterns unique to each genus as likely to be derived. We hypothesize that the last common ancestor likely had intermediately thick enamel, without particular thickening (or thinning) of enamel either occlusally or basally.
Article
The excavations carried out in the cave of Santa Ana (Cáceres, Spain), cave of the karstic network of the “Calerizo” of Cáceres, enabled us to know the existence, in stratigraphy, of the three lito-techniques modes which characterize the industrial development of lower and middle Pleistocene in the Iberian Peninsula. On standby of new research, the results obtained until now permit us two work out a diachronic assumption of technical evolution. In the Iberian Peninsula, there are only two karstic systems where we can fallow this technological development; one is the “Sierra de Atapuerca” (Burgos) and the other is the “Calerizo de Cáceres” (Cáceres).
Article
The formation of lateral enamel in Neandertal anterior teeth has been the subject of recent studies. When compared to the anterior teeth of modern humans from diverse regions (Point Hope, Alaska; Newcastle upon Tyne, England; southern Africa), Neandertal anterior teeth appear to fall within the modern human range of variation for lateral enamel formation time. However, the lateral enamel growth curves of Neandertals are more linear than those of these modern human samples. Other researchers have found that the lateral enamel growth curves of Neandertals are more linear than those of Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic modern humans as well. The statistical significance of this apparent difference between Neandertal and modern human lateral enamel growth curves is analyzed here. The more linear Neandertal enamel growth curves result from the smaller percentage of total perikymata located in the cervical halves of their teeth. The percentage of total perikymata in the cervical halves of teeth is therefore compared between the Neandertal sample (n = 56 teeth) and each modern human population sample: Inuit (n = 65 teeth), southern African (n = 114 teeth), and northern European (n = 115 teeth). There are 18 such comparisons (6 tooth types, Neandertals vs. each of the three modern human populations). Eighteen additional comparisons are made among the modern human population samples. Statistically significant differences are found for 16 of the 18 Neandertal vs. modern human comparisons but for only two of the 18 modern human comparisons. Statistical analyses repeated for subsamples of less worn teeth show a similar pattern. Because surface curvature is thought to affect perikymata spacing, we also conducted measurements to assess surface curvature in thirty teeth. Our analysis shows that surface curvature is not a factor in this lateral enamel growth difference between Neandertals and modern humans.
Article
The systematic excavation of the Sima de los Huesos (SH) site in Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain) has yielded the largest hominin collection worldwide for the Middle Pleistocene. The dental sample now consists of more than 500 teeth that provide exceptional opportunities to define the dental morphological pattern of a Middle Pleistocene population as well as develop hypotheses about the origins of the Neanderthals. The dental collection has now increased to over 533 specimens (525 permanent and 8 deciduous teeth), necessitating new morphological assessments. Thus, we present a detailed morphological description of the SH permanent dentition recovered up to 2007, accomplishing comparisons with European Middle Pleistocene hominins, Neanderthals, and early and contemporary Homo sapiens. We find that SH dentitions present all the morphological traits that, either in their degree of expression, frequency, or particular combination, are usually considered as typical of Homo neanderthalensis. This study ratifies the deep roots of the Neanderthal lineage in the Middle Pleistocene of Europe. In addition, SH teeth are morphologically "more Neanderthal" than other penecontemporaneous Middle Pleistocene samples such as Mauer or Arago, and even more derived than some classic Neanderthal samples. Thus, our study would not sustain the linearity of the accretion process hypothesized for the origins of the Neanderthals, and we suggest that other evolutionary models and scenarios should be explored for the Middle and Upper Pleistocene of Europe. We propose that more than one hominin lineage may have coexisted during the Middle Pleistocene in Europe.
Article
This paper continues the series of articles initiated in 2006 that analyse hominin dental crown morphology by means of geometric morphometric techniques. The detailed study of both upper premolar occlusal morphologies in a comprehensive sample of hominin fossils, including those coming from the Gran Dolina-TD6 and Sima de los Huesos sites from Atapuerca, Spain, complement previous works on lower first and second premolars and upper first molars. A morphological gradient consisting of the change from asymmetric to symmetric upper premolars and a marked reduction of the lingual cusp in recent Homo species has been observed in both premolars. Although percentages of correct classification based on upper premolar morphologies are not very high, significant morphological differences between Neanderthals (and European middle Pleistocene fossils) and modern humans have been identified, especially in upper second premolars. The study of morphological integration between premolar morphologies reveals significant correlations that are weaker between upper premolars than between lower ones and significant correlations between antagonists. These results have important implications for understanding the genetic and functional factors underlying dental phenotypic variation and covariation.
Article
This article is the third of a series that explores hominin dental crown morphology by means of geometric morphometrics. After the analysis of the lower second premolar and the upper first molar crown shapes, we apply the same technique to lower first premolar morphology. Our results show a clear distinction between the morphology seen in earlier hominin taxa such as Australopithecus and African early Homo, as well as Asian H. erectus, and more recent groups such as European H. heidelbergensis, H. neanderthalensis, and H. sapiens. The morphology of the earlier hominins includes an asymmetrical outline, a conspicuous talonid, and an occlusal polygon that tends to be large. The morphology of the recent hominins includes a symmetrical outline and a reduced or absent talonid. Within this later group, premolars belonging to H. heidelbergensis and H. neanderthalensis tend to possess a small and mesiolingually-displaced occlusal polygon, whereas H. sapiens specimens usually present expanded and centered occlusal polygons in an almost circular outline. The morphological differences among Paranthropus, Australopithecus, and African early Homo as studied here are small and evolutionarily less significant compared to the differences between the earlier and later homin taxa. In contrast to the lower second premolar and the upper first molar crown, the inclusion of a larger hominin sample of lower first premolars reveals a large allometric component.
Article
A recent evaluation of upper first molar (M¹) crown size and cusp proportions in the genus Homo (Quam et al. 2009) describes Homo antecessor as maintaining a primitive pattern of cusp proportions, similar to that identified in australopithecines and the earliest members of the genus Homo. These results contrast with those of Gómez-Robles et al. (2007), who described the crown shape in these molars as derived and similar to Neanderthals and European Homo heidelbergensis. The reassessment of these measurements following the same methodology described by Quam et al. (2009) in all the M(1) s that are currently part of the hypodigm of H. antecessor demonstrates that the fossils from TD6 not only have the same cusp proportions identified in later Homo species, but also a strongly reduced metacone and a large hypocone shared with Middle and Upper Pleistocene members of the Neanderthal lineage. The evolutionary significance of these features should be evaluated in light of the results provided by recently discovered dental, cranial, mandibular, and postcranial H. antecessor fossils.
Article
The aim of this study was to describe similarities and differences in the way modern and fossil hominin teeth grow in height. Measurements from longitudinal ground sections of 7 modern human canines and 19 first permanent molars were used to calculate extension rates in the crowns and roots and to plot distance curves for growth in tooth height. These were compared with identical data for 3 fossil hominin teeth attributed respectively to Paranthropus robustus, Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis. Enamel extension rates in each of the three fossil taxa fell within the range of modern humans. Root extension rates in the fossil taxa also fell within modern human ranges but differed in their pattern with either an early or late marked increase in root length. Extension rates in the canine crowns were higher in cuspal enamel than in lateral enamel. Combinations of high or low cuspal enamel extension rates, with either longer or shorter times taken to form lateral enamel, explain how crown formation times may vary independently of completed crown heights.
Article
Enamel thickness has assumed unique importance in the debate about the hominid status of Ramapithecus, despite the fact that there is little agreement about the meaning of 'thick enamel' or the significance of enamel thickness for hominoid taxonomy. My aim here is to evaluate the usefulness of enamel thickness and microstructure as characteristics for determining the relationships of the later Miocene hominoids, based both on a quantitative study of enamel thickness in extant hominoids and four species of later Miocene Sivapithecus (including 'Ramapithecus') and on scanning electron microscope analysis of enamel microstructure. Four categories of enamel thickness are defined metrically here and have been related to enamel microstructure and developmental rates. Thin fast-formed (pattern 3) enamel represents the ancestral condition in hominoids; it increased developmentally to thick pattern 3 enamel in the great ape and human clade and that condition is primitively retained in Homo and in the fossil hominoid Sivapithecus (including 'Ramapithecus'). Enamel thickness has been secondarily reduced in the African apes and also, although at a different rate and extent, in the orang-utan. Thick enamel, previously the most important characteristic in arguments about the earliest hominid, does not therefore identify a hominid.
Article
Among primitive peoples dental attrition appears to be a natural phenomenon. Often the degrees and kinds of tooth wear vary from population to population. This variability is possibly related to certain material aspects of culture such as diet, food preparation techniques and tool usage. In order to learn more about these relationships, extensive cross cultural comparisons must be made. This paper reports on a study of dental attrition among skeletal remains of North American Indians from three areas: California, the Southwest and the Valley of Mexico. A method of comparing worn teeth of these populations was devised so several characteristics of the teeth and supporting bone could be examined by population. This study showed significant differences in type and degree of wear among the three groups as well as differences between sexes within each population. A positive correlation between tooth wear and cultural factors was found. Dietary specialization and division of labor appear to be responsible for the degree and type of wear found in this sample. Further studies of this type are planned to expand the sample size and, if the new data support these correlations, valuable information about human–environmental relationships can be gained.
Article
This study presents data on the enamel thickness of deciduous (dm2) and permanent (M1-M3) molars for a geographically diverse sample of modern humans. Measurements were recorded from sections through the mesial cusps of unworn teeth. Enamel is significantly thinner on deciduous than on permanent molars, and there is a distinct trend for enamel to increase in relative thickness from M1 to M3. The relatively thicker enamel of M2s and especially M3s can be related to the overall reduction in size of more distal molar crowns, which has been attained through a differential loss of the dentine component. Enamel tends to be thicker on the protocone than on the paracone, and thicker on the protoconid than on the metaconid, but its distribution is not wholly concordant with models that predict increased thickness as a means by which to counter heavier attritional loss on these "functional" cusps. Indeed, the thickness of enamel tends to be more variable on cusp tips and occlusal surfaces than over the lateral aspects of cusps. The proportionately thicker enamel over the lateral aspects of the protocone and protoconid more likely serves as a means to prolong functional crown life by preventing cusp fracture, rather than being an adaptation to increase the attritional longevity of wear facets. The present data suggest that the human dentition is not predisposed to develop a helicoidal wear plane through the disposition of molar enamel thickness.
Article
Tooth enamel thickness has long been an important character in studies of primate and especially hominin phylogeny, taxonomy, and adaptation. Current methods for accurately assessing enamel thickness involve the physical sectioning of teeth, because measurements of enamel thickness using some radiographic techniques are unreliable. However, because destructive methods limit sample sizes and access to important fossil specimens, it is desirable that they be replaced with nondestructive techniques. Although microfocal X-ray computed tomography (mCT) has been used recently in studies of enamel thickness, the accuracy of this technique has yet to be established. The present research compares physical sections to computer-generated mCT sections of teeth from a variety of primate and nonprimate, recent and fossil taxa to examine whether enamel thickness, tooth size, and diagenetic remineralization (fossilization) impact the ability of mCT to measure enamel thickness accurately. Results indicate that recent teeth of varying size and thickness are clearly and accurately depicted in mCT scans, with measurements from nearly identical planes in physical and mCT sections differing by 3-5%. A fossil papionin molar (ca. 2 Myr) was also accurately measured using mCT scans, although thinner enamel in much older therapsid (ca. 263-241 Myr) teeth could not be distinguished from dentine. mCT is thus an accurate technique for measuring enamel thickness in recent taxa, although heavily mineralized teeth pose an obstacle to the ability of mCT to distinguish dental tissues. Moreover, absolutely thin enamel (less than approximately 0.10 mm) is difficult to resolve adequately in raw mCT images based on pixel values alone. Therefore, caution must be exercised in the application of mCT to the study of fossilized teeth.
Article
Mandibular premolars are increasingly used in taxon-specific diagnostic analyses of hominins. Among the principal difficulties in these evaluations is the absence of discrete, discernible, and comparable anatomical structures for rigorous quantitative assessment. Previous research has addressed either internal crown surface features (such as cusps and fossae) or the morphology of the crown outline. In the present paper, we integrate both types of information in the examination of morphological variation of lower P4s (n = 96) among various fossil hominin species with an emphasis on genus Homo. We use a set of 34 2D landmarks combining coordinate data from four classical dental landmarks on the occlusal surface and 30 sliding semilandmarks of the crown outline. Our results indicate that external shape variation is closely related to the configuration of the occlusal morphological features and influenced by dental size. The external and internal shapes of P4 are polymorphic but still useful in depicting a primitive-derived gradient. The primitive pattern seems to have been an asymmetrical contour with a mesially displaced metaconid, development of a bulging talonid, and a broad occlusal polygon. The trend toward dental reduction during the Pleistocene produced different morphological variants with a reduced occlusal polygon and decreased lingual occlusal surface in later Homo species. Homo heidelbergensis/neanderthalensis have fixed plesiomorphic traits in high percentages, whereas in modern humans a symmetrical outline with a centered metaconid and talonid reduction evolved.
Article
Enamel is formed incrementally by the secretory activity of ameloblast cells. Variable stages of secretion result in the formation of structures known as cross striations along enamel prisms, for which experimental data demonstrate a correspondence with daily periods of secretion. Patterns of variation in this daily growth are important to understanding mechanisms of tooth formation and the development of enamel thickness. Transmitted light microscopy (TLM) of histological ground sections and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of bulk specimens or their surface replicas are the usual methods for investigating cross striations. However, these methods pose some constraints on the study of these features in Plio-Pleistocene hominid enamel, the specimens of which may only rarely be sectioned for TLM or examined on only their most superficial surfaces for SEM. The recent development of portable confocal scanning optical microscopy (PCSOM) resolves some of the restrictions on fractured enamel surfaces, allowing the visualization of cross striations by direct examination. This technology has been applied here to the study of Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus hominid molars from the Plio-Pleistocene of South Africa. We hypothesize that these taxa have increased enamel appositional rates compared with modern humans, because despite having thicker enamelled molars (particularly P. robustus), the enamel crowns of these fossil taxa take an equivalent or reduced amount of time to form. Cross striations were measured in cuspal, lateral and cervical regions of the enamel crowns, and, within each region, the inner, middle and outer zones. Values obtained for A. africanus outer zones of the enamel crown are, in general, lower than those for P. robustus, indicating faster forming enamel in the latter, while both taxa show higher rates of enamel growth than modern humans and the African great apes. This demonstrates a relatively high degree of variability in the mechanisms underlying the development of enamel across taxa.
Article
The Plio-Pleistocene site of Kromdraai, South Africa, is well known for the recovery of the holotype of Paranthropus robustus, one of nine individual hominids recovered from this site to date. Among the Kromdraai sample, the specimen KB 5223 comprises several isolated deciduous and permanent lower teeth assigned to Paranthropus, the only recognized genus at this site. However, a more recent analysis of this specimen suggested that it should be classified as Homo. The lower right first permanent molar of KB 5223 had been previously sectioned along the tips of the mesial cusps, exposing its enamel microstructure. Previous studies had indicated differences between Homo and Paranthropus at the microstructural level. A portable confocal scanning microscope was used to describe details of the enamel microstructure of the M1 and I1 of this specimen. Angles formed between the striae of Retzius and the enamel dentine junction (EDJ), daily secretion rates in cuspal enamel of the protoconid and metaconid and crown formation time of the RM1 are provided. The number of perikymata on the right I1 was counted. Results indicate that some features recorded in the KB 5223 molar differ from those of Paranthropus. However, the number of perikymata on the I1 is lower than values so far reported for early Homo but similar to Paranthropus. Crown formation time of KB 5223 M1 was markedly lower than mean values of M1 in H. sapiens, but similar to other early hominids. Daily secretion rates in the cuspal enamel of KB 5223 M1 were higher than in modern humans.
Article
Methods of measuring tissue area from images of longitudinal thin tooth sections have been used to assess sexual dimorphism in the permanent dentition. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the extent of sexual dimorphism within the coronal tissue proportions of permanent mandibular canines and premolars, using area measurements of the enamel and dentine-pulp core. The sample consisted of embedded "half-tooth" sections from 45 individuals, all of known age-at-death and sex, collected from the St. Thomas' Anglican Church historic (1821-1874) cemetery site in Belleville, ON, Canada. The relative dentine-pulp area of the third premolars and canines displayed high levels of sexual dimorphism, as well as statistically significant mean differences between the sexes. The male canines and premolars have significantly more dentine than their female counterparts, as well as relatively more dentine with respect to overall crown size. The female canines and premolars have significantly more enamel relative to overall crown area than those of the males. These results suggest that relative area measures of crown tissues are more predictable measures of sexual dimorphism than absolute measures, and tissue proportions may remain constant despite intrasex variation in overall tooth crown size.
Article
Molar enamel thickness has played an important role in the taxonomic, phylogenetic, and dietary assessments of fossil primate teeth for nearly 90 years. Despite the frequency with which enamel thickness is discussed in paleoanthropological discourse, methods used to attain information about enamel thickness are destructive and record information from only a single plane of section. Such semidestructive planar methods limit sample sizes and ignore dimensional data that may be culled from the entire length of a tooth. In light of recently developed techniques to investigate enamel thickness in 3D and the frequent use of enamel thickness in dietary and phylogenetic interpretations of living and fossil primates, the study presented here aims to produce and make available to other researchers a database of 3D enamel thickness measurements of primate molars (n=182 molars). The 3D enamel thickness measurements reported here generally agree with 2D studies. Hominoids show a broad range of relative enamel thicknesses, and cercopithecoids have relatively thicker enamel than ceboids, which in turn have relatively thicker enamel than strepsirrhine primates, on average. Past studies performed using 2D sections appear to have accurately diagnosed the 3D relative enamel thickness condition in great apes and humans: Gorilla has the relatively thinnest enamel, Pan has relatively thinner enamel than Pongo, and Homo has the relatively thickest enamel. Although the data set presented here has some taxonomic gaps, it may serve as a useful reference for researchers investigating enamel thickness in fossil taxa and studies of primate gnathic biology.
Article
Two hypotheses, based on previous work on Neandertal anterior and premolar teeth, are investigated here: (1) that estimated molar lateral enamel formation times in Neandertals are likely to fall within the range of modern human population variation, and (2) that perikymata (lateral enamel growth increments) are distributed across cervical and occlusal halves of the crown differently in Neandertals than they are in modern humans. To investigate these hypotheses, total perikymata numbers and the distribution of perikymata across deciles of crown height were compared for Neandertal, northern European, and southern African upper molar mesiobuccal (mb) cusps, lower molar mesiobuccal cusps, and the lower first molar distobuccal (db) cusp. Sample sizes range from five (Neandertal M(1)db) to 29 (southern African M(1)mb). Neandertal mean perikymata numbers were found to differ significantly from those of both modern human samples (with the Neandertal mean higher) only for the M(2)mb. Regression analysis suggests that, with the exception of the M(2)mb, the hypothesis of equivalence between Neandertal and modern human lateral enamel formation time cannot be rejected. For the M(2)mb, regression analysis strongly suggests that this cusp took longer to form in the Neandertal sample than it did in the southern African sample. Plots of perikymata numbers across deciles of crown height demonstrate that Neandertal perikymata are distributed more evenly across the cervical and occlusal halves of molar crowns than they are in the modern human samples. These results are integrated into a discussion of Neandertal and modern human lateral enamel formation across the dentition, with reference to issues of life history and enamel growth processes.
Article
A recent study demonstrated that variation in enamel cap crown formation in the anterior teeth is greater than that in the molars from two geographically distinct populations: native indigenous southern Africans and northern Europeans. Eighty southern African and 69 northern European premolars (P3 and P4) were analyzed in the present study. Cuspal, lateral, and total enamel formation times were assessed. Although cuspal enamel formation times were not consistently different between the two populations, both lateral and total enamel formation times generally were. Bonferroni-corrected t-tests showed that southern Africans had significantly shorter lateral enamel formation time for five of the six cusps, as well as significantly shorter total enamel formation time for these same cusps. An analysis of covariance performed on the lingual cusps of the upper third and fourth premolars showed that differences in enamel formation times between these populations remained when crown height was statistically controlled. A further goal of this study was to ascertain, based on perikymata counts, what Neandertal periodicities would have to be in order for their teeth to have lateral enamel formation times equivalent to either southern Africans or northern Europeans. To this end, perikymata were counted on 32 Neandertal premolars, and the counts were inserted into regression formulae relating perikymata counts to periodicity for each population and each tooth type. Neandertal enamel formation times could be equivalent to those of southern Africans or northern Europeans only if their hypothetical periodicities fall within the range of periodicities for African apes and modern humans (i.e., 6-12 days). The analysis revealed that both populations could encompass Neandertal timings, with hypothetical periodicities based on the southern African population necessitating a lower range of periodicity (6-8 days) than those based on the northern European population (8-11 days).
Article
The timing and sequence of enamel development, as well as enamel thickness, was documented for individual cusps (protoconid, hypoconid, metaconid, entoconid) in 15 unworn permanent lower first molars (M(1)s) from a sample of modern human juveniles. These data were compared with previously published data for modern and fossil species reported in the literature. Crown formation in all teeth was initiated in the protoconid and completed in the hypoconid. These cusps had significantly longer formation times (2.91 and 2.96 yrs, respectively) than the metaconid and entoconid (2.52 and 2.38 yrs, respectively), as well as thicker enamel, and each represented between 92-95% of the total crown formation time. Rates of enamel secretion in all cusps increased significantly from 2.97 microm in the inner enamel to 4.47 microm in the outer enamel. Two cusps of one individual were studied in more detail and did not follow this typical trajectory. Rather, there was a sharp decrease in the middle of enamel formation and then a slow recovery of secretion rates from the mid- to outer enamel. This anomalous trajectory of enamel formation is discussed in the context of other nondental tissue responses to illness. Neither secretion rates nor periodicity differed significantly when compared between the cusps of each molar. Differences in cusp formation times, initiation, and completion suggest a relationship between the rates of enamel formation and enamel thickness. This fits with expectations about the mechanics of the chewing cycle and general lower molar morphology. A comparison with similar data for some nonhuman primates and fossil hominoids suggests this relationship may hold true across several primate taxa. Other aspects of enamel growth differed between this human sample and certain fossil species. The lower molars formed slowly over a longer period of time, which may reflect the extended growth period of modern humans. The methodological approach adopted in this study is discussed in the context of that used in other studies.
Effects of molar crown orientation to measures of lateral enamel thickness in the mesial cusp section
  • Kono
Kono, R. T., & Suwa, G. (2005). Effects of molar crown orientation to measures of lateral enamel thickness in the mesial cusp section. Bulletin of the National Science Museum. Series B, 31, 11-22.
Cuevas para la eternidad: sepulcros prehistóricos de la provincia de cáceres
  • C. E. Cerrillo
  • C. A. González