A Middle Pleistocene hominin of Serbia

Human Evolution

For much of the last decade, palaeoanthropologists have been investigating the internal structure of the teeth of our ancient ancestors. The morphology of the Enamel-Dentine boundary is hidden beneath the enamel surface and so is not subjected to wear by the hominins continuous chewing throughout her or his lifetime. It turns out that even if you only have a single molar tooth, it is actually possible to identify the species of the hominin that would have had that tooth in it’s jaw or maxilla. For example, the dentine horns of a species like Australopithecus africanus are tall and pointed, while those of Paranthropus boisei are short and squat. These different structures are greatly influenced by the diet of that hominin. Paranthropus, it seems spent more time chewing on grasses and sedges, but Australopithecus had a more varied diet. A team of palaeoanthropologists have examined the teeth of a Serbian hominin dating to between 397,000 to 525,000 years of age. This hominin was much more humanlike than Australopithecus or Paranthropus, but though all the team had were the wisdom teeth, it was possible to help shed light on the classification of the hominin.

A Middle Pleistocene hominin of Serbia: Internal structure of our early ancestor’s teeth can be reliably classified into various hominin taxa

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