A review of interproximal wear grooves on fossil hominin teeth with new evidence from Olduvai Gorge

Peter S. Ungar, Frederick E. Grine, Mark F. Teaford, Alejandro Pérez-Pérez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Interproximal (approximal) grooves at the cementum-enamel junction of premolar and molar teeth have been observed in a broad range of human ancestors and related extinct species from 1.84 million years ago to the present. Many hypotheses have been presented to explain the aetiology of these grooves, though their form and positioning are most consistent with tooth-picking behaviours. This paper reviews occurrences of interproximal grooves in the cheek teeth of modern and fossil humans, evaluates hypotheses on their cause, and reports on a previously undescribed groove found in OH 60, a molar tooth from Olduvai Gorge. This specimen is among the earliest to show such grooving, and is most likely attributable to Homo erectus. It is concluded that, because interproximal grooves have been observed only on Homo teeth, they probably reflect a behaviour or behaviours unique to that genus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-292
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Oral Biology
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 12 2001

Keywords

  • Homo erectus
  • Interproximal grooving
  • Olduvai Gorge
  • Tooth-picks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Dentistry(all)
  • Cell Biology

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