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The functional significance of dental and mandibular reduction in Homo : a catarrhine perspective

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

The reduction in dental size and mandibular robusticity is regarded as a major trend in human evolution, traditionally considered the result of the peculiar extra-oral food processing skills of Homo. The use of stone tools and fire would have allowed our ancestors to chew softer food in smaller bite size, thus relaxing the selective pressures to keep a large dentition and a robust lower jaw. This perspective assumes that differences in dental size and mandibular robusticity in hominins represent functional dissimilarities. This study uses a catarrhine comparative approach to test this fundamental assumption of the hypotheses on dental and mandibular reduction in Homo. A sample of extant catarrhines and fossil hominins was used to test for correlations between dental size, mandibular robusticity, and dietary proxies, the latter include diet quality, diet heterogeneity, feeding time, and microwear variables. The effects of phylogeny and body size were considered. Findings support the association between technological developments in Homo and reduction in incisor size and mandibular corpus robusticity, though not for premolar, molar size, and symphyseal robusticity. These results challenge the functional interpretation of postcanine reduction and symphyseal changes in the genus Homo.
ISSN: 0275-2565
Issue: 3
Volume: 81
Aantal pagina's: 1
Jaar van publicatie:2019