A modern human pattern of dental development in lower pleistocene hominids from Atapuerca-TD6 (Spain).
The study of life history evolution in hominids is crucial for the discernment of when and why humans have acquired our unique maturational pattern. Because the development of dentition is critically integrated into the life cycle in mammals, the determination of the time and pattern of dental development represents an appropriate method to infer changes in life history variables that occurred during hominid evolution. Here we present evidence derived from Lower Pleistocene human fossil remains recovered from the TD6 level (Aurora stratum) of the Gran Dolina site in the Sierra de Atapuerca, northern Spain. These hominids present a pattern of development similar to that of Homo sapiens, although some aspects (e.g., delayed M3 calcification) are not as derived as that of European populations and people of European origin. This evidence, taken together with the present knowledge of cranial capacity of these and other late Early Pleistocene hominids, supports the view that as early as 0.8 Ma at least one Homo species shared with modern humans a prolonged pattern of maturation. (+info)
Australopithecus garhi: a new species of early hominid from Ethiopia.
The lack of an adequate hominid fossil record in eastern Africa between 2 and 3 million years ago (Ma) has hampered investigations of early hominid phylogeny. Discovery of 2.5 Ma hominid cranial and dental remains from the Hata beds of Ethiopia's Middle Awash allows recognition of a new species of Australopithecus. This species is descended from Australopithecus afarensis and is a candidate ancestor for early Homo. Contemporary postcranial remains feature a derived humanlike humeral/femoral ratio and an apelike upper arm-to-lower arm ratio. (+info)
Equatorius: a new hominoid genus from the Middle Miocene of Kenya.
A partial hominoid skeleton just older than 15 million years from sediments in the Tugen Hills of north central Kenya mandates a revision of the hominoid genus Kenyapithecus, a possible early member of the great ape-human clade. The Tugen Hills specimen represents a new genus, which also incorporates all material previously referable to Kenyapithecus africanus. The new taxon is derived with respect to earlier Miocene hominoids but is primitive with respect to the younger species Kenyapithecus wickeri and therefore is a late member of the stem hominoid radiation in the East African Miocene. (+info)
A new primate from the Middle Eocene of Myanmar and the Asian early origin of anthropoids.
A new genus and species of anthropoid primate, Bahinia pondaungensis gen. et sp. nov., is described from the Yashe Kyitchaung locality in the Late Middle Eocene Pondaung Formation (Myanmar). It is related to Eosimias, but it is represented by more complete remains, including upper dentition with associated lower jaw fragment. It is interpreted as a new representative of the family Eosimiidae, which corresponds to the sister group of the Amphipithecidae and of all other anthropoids. Eosimiidae are now recorded from three distinct Middle Eocene localities in Asia, giving support to the hypothesis of an Asian origin of anthropoids. (+info)
Widanelfarasia, a diminutive placental from the late Eocene of Egypt.
The lower dentition of Widanelfarasia (new genus), a diminutive late Eocene placental from the Fayum Depression in Egypt, is described. Widanelfarasia exhibits a complex of features associated with incipient zalambdodonty and at least three unequivocal apomorphies [loss of P(1), an enlarged I(2) (relative to I(3)), and a basal cusp on I(2)], which provide weak support for its placement as a possible sister taxon of either a tenrecid-chrysochlorid clade or of solenodontids. The former hypothesis gains additional support from biogeographical evidence, but both scenarios are currently tenuous as Widanelfarasia is clearly not truly zalambdodont. Phylogenetic hypotheses positing affinities with tenrecids alone or chrysochlorids alone must invoke either convergent acquisition of zalambdodonty in these taxa or autapomorphic reversal in Widanelfarasia. Given these considerations, a relationship with more generalized taxa from the Laurasian Paleogene (e.g., geolabidids, nyctitheriids, leptictids) cannot yet be ruled out. Comparisons with other Paleogene Afro-Arabian forms are generally inconclusive. A relationship with the earlier Eocene Chambilestes from Tunisia-currently represented by a single specimen preserving P(4)-M(3)-seems possible based on the geometry and predicted occlusal relationships of these teeth, but cannot be confidently determined until these two taxa come to be represented by common diagnostic elements. Todralestes (late Paleocene, Morocco) exhibits general phenetic similarities to Widanelfarasia, but it is not yet known whether this taxon shares any of Widanelfarasia's unequivocal dental apomorphies. Pending the recovery of more informative material, we tentatively refer Widanelfarasia to Placentalia incertae sedis. Truly zalambdodont placentals remain conspicuously absent from the Paleogene of Afro-Arabia. (+info)
Linking development with generation of novelty in mammalian teeth.
The evolution of mammalian teeth is characterized by the frequent and convergent evolution of new cusps. The evolution of new cusps can be linked to tooth development via population-level variation. This allows testing whether development increases the capacity to evolve, or evolvability, by facilitating and even directing morphological change. In a population sample of living seals, variation in cusp number of individual teeth is from three to five cusps, the variably present cusps being the shortest ones that also develop last. By factoring in recent evidence on development, I show that the variation in cusp number can be explained by a patterning cascade mode of cusp development that cumulatively increases and directs height variation in short cusps. The biased variation in seal tooth cusps supports the recognition of teeth as highly evolvable because only small developmental changes are needed to produce large changes in size and number of small cusps. This evolvability of tooth cusps may have facilitated the fast and independent acquisition of new cusps in mammalian evolution. In phylogenetic studies, small cusps may be unreliable as phylogenetic signals. Population level variation can be a powerful tool in testing and generating hypotheses in developmental evolution studies. (+info)
Oral hygiene, dentition, sexual habits and risk of oral cancer.
In an Italian case-control study of oral cancer, number of missing teeth and other aspects of dental care were similar, but the general condition of the mouth, as indicated by gum bleeding, tartar deposits and mucosal irritation, was worse among oral cancer cases than controls. No differences were detected in sexual practices (including oral sex) and (previous) sexually transmitted infections. (+info)
Dynamics of tooth formation and replacement in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) (Teleostei, Cyprinidae).
We have used three-dimensional reconstructions from serial sections as well as cleared and stained specimens to infer patterning of the pharyngeal dentition throughout ontogeny in the zebrafish. Each pharyngeal tooth has been monitored from its initiation to its complete disappearance (resorption and shedding). We have identified tooth families and have studied the persistence of the pattern through successive replacements. Teeth arise in two seemingly independent clusters, a ventral and a dorsal cluster, with differing patterning features. The ventral cluster consists of one row of five teeth in which a tooth is first initiated in position four, and subsequent teeth in adjacent positions, posterior and anterior to it. Replacement teeth in odd and even positions are initiated simultaneously during successive odontogenic waves but differ in generation number according to the timing of appearance of the first-generation tooth, i.e., the founder of the tooth family. Up to four teeth of a single tooth family are simultaneously present in early juveniles of which two are usually "co-functional." The number of teeth per tooth family is reduced in older juveniles and adults, reflecting a slowing down of the replacement rate. The consistent way in which the pattern is established and maintained during ontogeny calls for research of the presence of specific molecular controls. (+info)