Re: [SACC-L] wisdom teeth
It goes back further than this. There is a general trend in dental
reduction in primates compared to other mammals.
However, the trend in Homo sapiens appears to be relatively recent.
For example, Ungar et al. report microwear on 3 molars in all hominan
species up through H erectus, as well as some other specimens not
clearly attributed to a species within genus Homo: Title: Dental
microwear and diets of African early Homo
Author(s): Ungar PS, Grine FE, Teaford MF, et al.
Source: JOURNAL OF HUMAN EVOLUTION Volume: 50 Issue: 1 Pages:
78-95 Published: JAN 2006
Title: Pestera cu Oase 2 and the cranial morphology of early modern
Author(s): Rougier H, Milota S, Rodrigo R, et al.
Source: PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA Volume: 104 Issue: 4 Pages: 1165-1170
Published: JAN 23 2007
This one indicates the M3 is common in populations as recent as 14KYA.
An older study (back in the 80s) shows detailed gracilization studies of
human skeletal materials in the UK from about 10KYA indicating that the
continued reduction in the facial skeleton was fairly recent.
GRADUAL CHANGE IN HUMAN TOOTH SIZE IN THE LATE PLEISTOCENE AND
EVOLUTION 41 : 705 1987
Title: HUMAN DENTAL REDUCTION - NATURAL-SELECTION OR THE PROBABLE
Author(s): CALCAGNO, JM
Source: AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY Volume: 77 Issue: 4
Pages: 505 Published: DEC 1988
HUMAN DENTO-GNATHIC METRIC VARIATION IN MESOLITHIC/NEOLITHIC UKRAINE -
POSSIBLE EVIDENCE OF DEMIC DIFFUSION IN THE DNIEPER-RAPIDS REGION
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 95 : 1 1994
YUGOSLAV MESOLITHIC DENTAL REDUCTION
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 78 : 17 1989
Title: BIOLOGICAL CHANGES IN HUMAN-POPULATIONS WITH AGRICULTURE
Author(s): LARSEN CS
Source: ANNUAL REVIEW OF ANTHROPOLOGY Volume: 24 Pages: 185-213
The problem with most of the studies on current populations is that you
have to look at a bunch of individual articles about dental development
in Turkey, or Japan, or among Hispanic children in Texas, and so on. A
couple of studies indicate that there is considerable variation ---
which is probably environmentally mediated --- even between regions in
However, the growth rates of the jaw apparatus seem to have a
significant effect on the rate of mineralization of the crowns and
development of the roots.
I also found this, but could not access it: DAHLBERG AA
THE CHANGING DENTITION OF MAN
JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN DENTAL ASSOCIATION 32 : 676 1945
Garn, S.M., Lewis, A.B., and Vicinus, J.H. Third Molar Polymorphism and
Its Significance to Dental Genetics, J. dent. Res., 42:1344-63,
1963.[Free Full Text]
The current dental literature reports that PAX9 seems to be the homeobox
gene that is most commonly found in third molar agenesis. But we are
also seeing MX1 and TGFA showing up in some studies. Other studies show
that it is not the structural gene PAX9, but promoter region G/C-915
that makes the difference.
All this means simply that --- like most anatomical features --- there
is a complex interaction at the level of structural, regulatory, and
developmental genes that influence the outcomes.
Bob Muckle wrote:
> Can anybody familiarize me with the anthropological perspective on
> having no room for the third molars (wisdom teeth)? Some the things I
> would like to know include
> When did having no room for the third molar start appearing in the
> archaeological record (in populations, rather than individuals)?
> How widespread is this phenomena around the world?
> What are some of the explanations/hypotheses used to explain it?
> I'm guessing that some kind of cutlural selection processs has been
> going on (ie. less prognathism=more attractive, but less room for
> teeth), but don't really know. I assume that the loss of four molars
> would generally be a bad thing, considering that it would put
> increased wear on the remaining molars. I'm also under the impression
> that it is becoming increasingly common for people to never have their
> third molars appear (thus not having to have them extracted). But this
> is anecdotal only.
> Make me, or let me, look smart to my students. Please.
Andrew J Petto, PhD
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
PO Box 413
Milwaukee WI 53201-0413
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