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Z Morphol Anthropol. 1991;78(3):425-40.

Tooth crown heights, tooth wear, sexual dimorphism and jaw growth in hominoids.

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Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College London.


The aim of this review is to bring together data that link tooth morphology with tooth function and tooth growth: We aim to show how the microanatomy of hominoid teeth is providing evidence about rates of tooth growth that are likely to be a consequence of both masticatory strategy and social behaviour. First, we present data about incisor and molar tooth wear in wild short chimpanzees that demonstrate how crown heights are likely to be related to relative tooth use in a broad sense. Following this we review recent studies that describe the microanatomy of hominoid tooth enamel and show how these studies are providing evidence about tooth crown formation times in hominoids, as well as improving estimates for the age at death of certain juvenile fossil hominids. Next, we outline what is known about the mechanisms of tooth growth in the sexually dimorphic canine teeth of chimpanzees and compare these patterns of growth with tooth growth patterns in the canines of three fossil hominids from Laetoli, Tanzania. Finally, we discuss how selection pressures that operate to increase or reduce the size of anterior teeth interact with jaw size. We argue that the space available to grow developing teeth in the mandibles of juvenile hominoids is determined by the growth patterns of the mandibles, which in turn reflect masticatory strategy. The consequences of selection pressure to grow large or small anterior teeth are likely to be reflected in the times at which these teeth are able to emerge into occlusion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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