Sunday, February 4, 2018

The fossil teeth of the Peking Man

Song Xing, María Martinón-Torres, José María Bermúdez de Castro
Nature Scientific Reports, volume 8, Article number: 2066 (2018)
(Link) open access
 
Abstract
 
This study provides new original data, including the endostructure of most Zhoukoudian H. erectus teeth preserved to date, since the publication of Black in 1927 and Weidenreich in 1937. The new evidence ratifies the similarities of Zhoukoudian with other East Asian mid-Middle Pleistocene hominins such as Hexian and Yiyuan, and allows defining a dental pattern potentially characteristic of this population commonly referred to as classic H. erectus. Given the possible chronological overlaps of classic H. erectus with other archaic Homo, the characterization of this group becomes a key issue when deciphering the taxonomy and evolutionary scenario of the Middle Pleistocene hominins in East Asia. Internally, the most remarkable feature of Zhoukoudian teeth is the highly crenulated enamel-dentine junction (EDJ) and its imprint on the roof of the pulp cavity. So far, this “dendrite-like” EDJ has been found only in East Asia Middle Pleistocene hominins although a large group of samples were assessed, and it could be useful to dentally define classic H. erectus in China. The crenulated EDJ surface, together with the stout roots and the taurodontism could be a mechanism to withstand high biomechanical demand despite a general dentognathic reduction, particularly of the crowns, in these populations.

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