Dental development in Homo naledi

Zachary Cofran, Christopher S. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Humans’ prolonged somatic development and life history are unique among primates, yet their evolutionary origins remain unclear. Dental development has been used as a proxy to reconstruct life history evolution in the hominin clade and indicates a recent emergence of the human developmental pattern. Here, we analyse tooth formation and eruption in two developing dentitions of Homo naledi, a late-surviving, morphologically mosaic hominin species. Deciduous dental development is more similar to humans than to chimpanzees, probably reflecting hominin symplesiomorphy rather than bearing life history significance. The later stages of permanent tooth development present a mix of human- and chimpanzee-like patterns. Surprisingly, the M2 of H. naledi emerges late in the eruption sequence, a pattern previously unknown in fossil hominins and common in modern humans. This pattern has been argued to reflect a slow life history and is unexpected in a small-brained hominin. The geological age of H. naledi (approx. 300 kya), coupled with its small brain size and the dental development data presented here, raise questions about the relationship between dental development and other variables associated with life history.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170339
JournalBiology Letters
Volume13
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2017

Fingerprint

Hominidae
Homo
Tooth
teeth
life history
Pan troglodytes
Tooth Eruption
Dentition
Fossils
Deciduous Tooth
Proxy
Primates
fossils
brain
Brain

Keywords

  • Hominin
  • Life history
  • Ontogeny
  • Teeth
  • Tooth eruption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Cofran, Z., & Walker, C. S. (2017). Dental development in Homo naledi. Biology Letters, 13(8), [20170339]. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2017.0339

Dental development in Homo naledi. / Cofran, Zachary; Walker, Christopher S.

In: Biology Letters, Vol. 13, No. 8, 20170339, 01.08.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cofran, Z & Walker, CS 2017, 'Dental development in Homo naledi', Biology Letters, vol. 13, no. 8, 20170339. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2017.0339
Cofran, Zachary ; Walker, Christopher S. / Dental development in Homo naledi. In: Biology Letters. 2017 ; Vol. 13, No. 8.
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