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Auton Neurosci. 2005 Feb 7;117(2):115-9.

A hypothesis: autonomic rhythms are reflected in growth lines of teeth in humans and extinct archosaurs.

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  • 1New Mexico Health Enhancement and Marathon Clinics Research Foundation, Albuquerque, NM, USA.


A major determinant of tooth architecture is the arrangement of lines in dentin and in the enamel following the contour of the surface. Since the original description of these lines in the 19th century, they have been attributed to recurring events during tooth development. They have also attracted the attention of dental scientists and anthropologists; however, to date, studies of these structures have been largely theoretical and microscopic. We show here that the statistical properties of the spacing between the lines are similar in teeth from both ancient and modern humans and from extinct archosaurs, reptiles that lived tens or hundreds of millions of years ago-they also resemble heart rate variability of living humans. We propose that the deposition of these recurring structures is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. This control accounts for their regularity and recurrent nature and implies that the lines are an expression of a biologic rhythm which has been conserved throughout evolution. Details of the rhythms give clues to life styles in ancient civilizations and to the physiology of extinct archosaurs.

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