From Hominins to Hadza: the Evolutionary Dental Approach

Originally posted and full article at Research Frontiers blog


The Hadza of Tanzania are among the few remaining cultures that still have groups subsisting on the wild land. (Photo courtesy of Joey Roe and Andreas Lederer, WikiCommons)

You usually do not think much about teeth. You brush them twice a day and use them to chew your food. But who would have thought that the texture of your teeth can tell scientists, now or give or take a few million years, what you primarily ate?


A researcher at the University of Arkansas, Peter Ungar devised a technique called microwear texture analysis. He uses samples of dental molds from the Hadza people, modern hunter-gatherers in northern Tanzania, and compare the texture of those molds to samples of the human predecessors, hominins. If the technique is sensitive enough to discern between a meat-based diet and a tuber-based diet, he may be able to determine what hominins survived off of.


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