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age and individual variation has not to
my knowledge been studied.

The various causes of tooth wear do
not all affect the teeth identically, and
some distinction among causes is
clearly necessary for much to be done
with the subject. There is a serious
problem in that one cause can affect
teeth in several ways and, conversely,
that our imagination and observations
of living peoples will probably not pro-
vide a complete inventory of even the
important causes of attrition. The
tooth material can be removed in
lfakes, in scratches, in an apparently
smooth manner, and by solution.
These can be of different intensities
and affect cusps, individual teeth, and
parts of the mouth differently. The
difference between attrition of enamel
and exposed dentine may be subject to
variation among causes. It is conceiv-
able that some items chewed may af-
fect the normal reconstitution of
enamel, either positively or negatively.


Frankfurt, Germany. 27 xi 71

Among the teeth of Sinanthropus, so
carefully described by Weidenreich
(1937), there are two which show a
kind of damage difficult to explain.
One is a second upper molar (no. 145),
not illustrated, the other an isolated
left first molar (no. 38), of which we
have a cast. Weidenreich reports (p.

This lower molar shows a strange indenta-
tion on its mesial and distal surfaces. The
indentations are located just below the
boundary of the enamel and occupy the
greatest part of the neck region. The distal
indentation is deeper, narrower, and
shorter than the mesial one. Its length
amounts to 6,8 mm, its breadth to 1,6 mm
at its widest part It is interesting to

note that the distal contact facet which

partly forms the upper border of the in-

dentation is so deep as to cause the enamel

to be completely worn off within the entire

lower part of the facet, even affecting the

dentine. The mesial indentation shows sim-

ilar conditions The mesial contact

facet shows similar conditions and the same

relation to the indentation as the distal one.

The same conditions have been de-

scribed by Martin (1923) for the lower

molars of La Quina man. The grooves

are on the same side and in the same

place as in the Sinanthropus molar; they

are found on the first and second

molars opposite each other on both

sides of the mandible. There is no

indication of tartar or caries. Says


Siffre (1911), a dentist, entrusted to make a

special investigation, came to the conclu-

sion that the indentations in question were

lesions caused by the constant usage of

toothpick He believes that the tooth-

Vol. 13 . No. 5 . December 1972





pick was in the form of a bone needle

The idea that Neanderthal Man made reg-

ular use of a toothpick seems too grotesque

to be true.

Weidenreich, after examining a num-

ber of arguments, comes to the conclu-

sion (p. 164) that the "indentations,

therefore, must be considered as a

pathological condition of the tooth.

. . . I believe it possible that these

grooves could have resulted from a

localized gingivites!"

Among our fossils from Sangiran is

a single incisor of a buffalo in which on

one side we find the same type of

groove along the enamel border, only

deeper and broader. There can be no

doubt that the damage was caused by

tough grasses' having slipped through

the space between the teeth and

rubbed against the neck of the tooth.

The Sinanthropus molar in question is

very much worn, even exposing the

secondary dentine in places (stage 7

according to Weidenreich). In this

state of wear the teeth can hardly have

formed an uninterrupted row. I there-

fore suggest that tough fibrous mate-

rial, intensively chewed, had repeat-

edly been pressed into the interstices

between the teeth and then pulled out

by hand, causing the grooves along the

enamel border that we observe on the

mesial and distal face of the Sinanthro-

pus molar.



Albany, N.Y., U.S.A. 24 xi 71

Molnar's optimism over the role of

dental-attrition studies as a means of

furthering our understanding of the

"lifeways" of various human popula-

tions is surely warranted. This is es-

pecially true since the dentition pro-

vides us with the greatest amount of

quantitative and qualitative data in

skeletal populations. As Molnar points

out, the systematic analysis of dental

attrition is a relatively new field, and as

such is in need of accurate, reproduci-

ble data-gathering techniques. The

development of such techniques with

regard to the form and direction of

tooth wear is well under way, but the

degree of wear may not be so readily


Molnar refers to the warnings of

Brothwell and Rabkin against assum-

ing a correlation between chronologi-

cal age and degree of attrition. It cer-

tainly must be agreed that large differ-

ences in the degree of tooth wear

between two populations are better

explained through technology than

longevity. If, however, we are dealing

with populations similar in technology




and/or subsistence pattern, the ages of
the individuals in the samples might be
of critical importance and an attempt
must be made to insure that the ages
of the individuals in the samples are
equal. This may not present too for-
midable a problem when one is dealing
with living populations, but in the case
of skeletal populations it does.

We can compare prehistoric Illinois
Indians of 35 to 45 years of age with a
similar age group from a modern pop-
ulation and confidently assign differ-
ences in the amount of tooth wear to
obvious differences in technology, sim-
ply because the differences will be
great. If we want to compare two pre-
historic Indian populations, the differ-
ences will be considerably less marked,
and a 10-year age interval may mask a
great deal of wear variability which is
due to age alone. Current techniques
for determining the age of individuals
from skeletal evidence simply cannot
segregate individuals into age cat-
egories small enough for comparative
studies of the degree of dental attri-
tion when technological variation is
held relatively constant.

This difficulty would not appre-
ciably affect the analysis of the form
and direction of tooth wear, however,
and it is in this area that we should be
intensifying our efforts. Molnar has
provided us with a good overview of
the background of dental attrition
studies and has suggested avenues for
future research. What we need now is
a formalized methodology and coop-
eration in the form of data publica-


Ann Arbor, Mich., U.S.A. 23 xi 71
Molnar has written an excellent review
of the literature concerned with varia-
tions in tooth use. I am particularly
interested in the use of the anterior
dentition as a holding device. Molnar
reports the prying off of rusted gaso-
line-drum covers (De Poncins 1941)
and other similar functions. I believe
that the gripping and holding func-
tions of the anterior dentition have
had even greater selective advantage
in the past. Table 1 indicates the dis-
tribution of averaged mandibular and
maxillary anterior tooth-row summed
lengths, breadths, and areas in fossil
and modern hominids. It can be seen
that the greatest change in the anterior
teeth is in the breadth reduction which
occurred after the Neandertals. In
both mean value and range, the
breadths of the anterior teeth in homi-
nids up to and including Neandertals
are close to the same and are about












Australopithecines . . . 26.3 22.7-29.0 10 7.1 24.7 21.4-28.6 20

Pithecanthropines . . . 28.0 24.2-29.5 4 8.3 27.6 25.7-32.6 4

Neandertals 26.6 24.0-30.0 16 7.4 26.9 22.9-32.2 18
Anatomically modern

H. sapiens 24.5 18.7-29.4 164 7.5 23.0 18.8-30.3 160


Australopithecines. . . 20.3 17.2-23.0 14 7.8 23.0 20.0-26.5 13

Pithecanthropines . . . 21.1 18.2-23.8 12 7.6 23.8 21.4-27.8 12

Neandertals 20.5 17.5-22.8 37 7.0 24.5 21.4-28.7 35
Anatomically modern

H. sapiens 19.2 14.2-22.4 180 7.8 20.4 14.5-25.0 170


NOTE: N is the sample size and CV the coefficient of variation.




20% greater than in modern man. strenuous use and use over shorter

This difference is 2.20 in the maxilla periods of time. For example, it takes

and 2.60 in the mandible. far more time and effort for an ap-

Greater breadth means far greater paratus operating essentially as a vise

structural strength. If Eskimos can pry to hold a piece of wood when the wood

off rusted gasoline-drum covers with is being cut in half with an all-purpose

their (reduced) anterior teeth, one can knife than when it is being cut with a

imagine the regular use to which teeth saw. The concomitant reduction of the

of more ancient populations must anterior dentition continued through

have been put. When something is the remainder of the Pleistocene and,

gripped in the teeth, providing a on a worldwide basis, through the

steady position for the mouth or ap- post-Pleistocene period (Brace and

plying linear or rotational force at the Mahler 1971).
mouth requires, primarily, use of the

nuchal musculature. Consequently,
the extensive planum nuchale and
broad occipital bases of premodern





8.1 216 183.4-238.8 8 9.1

10.5 260 208.7-320.2 4 14.3

8.9 235 196.8-292.0 15 11.5


7.7 190 131.0-258.0 160 13.0


8.6 160 129.6-197.1 13 13.3

7.5 170 145.6-201.8 12 10.0

6.7 171 130.3-203.0 35 13.9


7.8 133 82.0-178.0 167 12.9






The study of dental attrition also has
implications for our ideas on human
evolution, since individual tooth-size
variations are often used as a major
criterion for separating taxa of fossil
hominids. After looking at intersti-
tial wear and size variations among
Lower Pleistocene hominids, Wolpoff
(1971b:221) concluded that many of
them seem to be born "as Homo habilis,
grow up to be australopithecines, and
if they live much past maturity die as
Homo erectus."

Brace (e.g., 1964) has argued that
the major reason for the reduction of
the forward part of the dental arch
and the supporting parts of the face

hominids are part of a morphological
pattern that includes large anterior
teeth and supporting facial architec-

As Molnar points out, another indi-
cation of the intense selection for large
(particularly, broad) anterior teeth is
in the observed differential wear of
incisors compared with molars. This
occurs in both gracile (MLD 18, MLD
23) and robust (SK 52, SK 65) aus-
tralopithecines, in pithecanthropines
(OH 13, Ternifine 3), and in Ne-
andertals (Qafzeh 5,8, Shanidar 2,
Saccopastore 2, La Quina H5, Mon-

I believe the evidence indicates that
reduction of the broad Lower and
Middle Pleistocene anterior dentitions
is a consequence of the development
of numerous special-purpose tools by
Neandertals, where previously fewer
numbers of general-purpose tools had
sufficed (Brose and Wolpoff 1971).
The development of such special-
purpose tools reduced selection for
force and power in the anterior denti-
tion through a combination of less



Albany, N.Y., U.S.A. 22 xi 71
Molnar summarizes data on two im-
portant facts: (1) human populations,
both ancient and modern, particularly
nonagriculturalists, may show exten-
sive dental attrition, and (2) teeth, in
some cultures, are widely employed as

One thing that will be extremely
helpful will be a major study of teeth
as particular tools and the exact kind
of wear produced by each utilization.
It is not yet possible to draw all corre-
lations of this nature, but here we find
some in regard to chipping of teeth
and certain tooth-tool functions, and
the "prodigious development of the
muscles of mastication" in Eskimos
due to the chewing of hardened seal
and walrus hides to soften them. Else-
where Molnar notes that the Aus-
tralian Aborigines use their teeth as a
vise, to strip bark, to chew sinew, etc.
He concludes that "all of these craft
functions of the teeth can be expected
to cause unique wear patterns." What
are they?

from Neandertal to Upper Paleolithic
populations was technological refine-
ment of tools, which reduced the sig-
nificance of large and powerful anteri-
or teeth. This argument has been
discussed by Brose and Wolpoff
(1971:1176), who submit that for Ne-
andertals "the primary function of an-
terior teeth [as tools] is in gripping,
holding, exerting torsion," etc. They
ifnd, for example, that the increased
breadth of Neandertal anterior teeth
was an effective means of structural
refinement and that "even slightly
worn Neandertal incisors tend to be
almost square" (Brose and Wolpoff

Studies such as these suggest that we
now must go beyond the two facts of
dental wear and teeth as tools and
begin studying the relationship of par-
ticular functions of teeth and the re-
sultant wear patterns, and then apply
these data to major theoretical prob-
lems such as hominid evolution.
Molnar's article is a useful start even
though issues such as quantification of
wear are left undiscussed.







I am gratified that so many of the
commentators saw my paper as a com-
mendable first step which opened up
an important area of research. As sev-
eral noted, the purpose of this paper
was to raise questions about tooth
wear, tooth function, and culture. Re-
search opportunities abound in this
rather neglected area, even though a
substantial record already exists in the
mass of skeletal remains of extinct and
extant populations. All that is required
is for numerous investigators to ex-
amine this material in some consistent,
standardized way. The results, coup-
led with experimental studies and eth-
nographic observations, will go a long
way towards understanding biocul-
tu ral interactions.

In reference to Brian's comments,
the wear pattern distinction between
many fossil hominid and modern teeth
is not at all clear. Patterns common to
both groups occur as well as some
striking differences, as I have tried to
note. Two major factors should be
kept in mind: First, there is no single
pattern of wear that is common to all
modern sapiens, just as there is no
single pattern for fossil sapiens and his
predecessors; attritional patterns vary
from population to population and
even between sexes (see Molnar
1971a). (On the matter of sexual di-
morphism in tooth wear, I appreciate
the observations by Kennedy and by
Ganguly.) Second, too few observa-
tions of wear patterns for either mod-
ern or fossil populations have been
offered, and most of these few are
casual, subjective appraisals.

There are many studies of human
prehistoric skeletal remains, but I have
relied on only a few in putting to-
gether this paper. Most of these skele-
tal analyses note the condition of the
dentition briefly, almost as an after-
thought. Many months ago, when I
ifrst wrote this paper, I selected and
quoted from those publications that
I thought best illustrated the points I
was trying to make. Had I the paper to
rewrite, the bibliographic references
would probably differ somewhat.
However, it was never my intention to
write a complete synthesis of all the
available literature on prehistoric den-

The data on human dental attrition
are meager, as Ganguly points out, but
sufficient information nevertheless ex-
ists about environmental effects on the
teeth to formulate hypotheses con-
cerned with the interactions between
culture, biology, and long-term evolu-
tionary changes. Testing them is an-

Vol. 13 . No. 5 . December 1972




other matter; though the means exist,
very few investigators have looked at
the problem. The question of diet and
hence adaptations of Early and Middle
Pleistocene hominids has been around
for a long time, together with numer-
ous, highly speculative arguments.
This question can be investigated ex-
perimentally in the laboratory and
need not continue to plague paleoan-
thropologists (see Brace and Molnar
1967, Molnar 1968a, c). Use of ethno-
graphic observations together with
careful studies of the skeletal evidence
is an important part of the record of
past adaptations, dietary and other-
wise, which I have tried to show in this
paper. My thanks to Brace, Brose,
Frisch, Greene, and Wright for em-
phasizing this aspect and for stating
that useful evolutionary information
can be gained.

The investigation of man's masti-
catory apparatus is extremely difficult
and many-faceted. The questions
raised by the commentators all shed
light on the broader scope of the prob-
lem. Some aspects of the problem I
have pointed out, but a few, such as
the several sources of tooth wear de-
scribed by Turner, are entirely new
perspectives to me. All aspects of tooth
wear production need to be explored.
I have looked at only one so far to any
extent: the relationships between mo-
tions, forces, and occlusal wear. An-
other is the abrasive quality of kinds of
diets; tooth usage and wear has only
been touched upon, and I have been
limited in my efforts in this area. A
third area, potentially the most signifi-
cant as an indicator of developmental
and environmental conditions, is in-
vestigation of microstructural changes
in the dentine and enamel.

I appreciate the observations on
tooth use and sources of wear offered
by Ganguly, Poirier, Kennedy, and
Turner. In reference to Poirier's state-
ment that different types of activities
can have the same effects on the teeth
and supporting structures, I would
like to point out that this is the very
reason for the careful and extensive
collection of ethnographic data con-
cerning diet and technology. True, the
holding of vines, yucca fibers, leather,
or even a pipe stem in the incisors may
produce very similar wear. There will
be, however, intergroup differences
that reflect differences in technology
to at least some degree. The aim
should be to find out to what degree
destruction of dental tissues is a reflec-
tion of all segments of technology.

Many sources of tooth wear are rec-
ognized, just as numerous variations
in the condition of the arch affect




patterns of wear on the occlusal sur-
faces. Eruption sequences (as noted by
Greene), missing teeth, which place a
heavier burden on the balance of the
dental arcade, and disease, either
tooth decay or bone inflammation, are
factors that alter or create unique
planes over the occlusal surfaces. This
is why it is important to study teeth in
situ whenever possible. In the case of
missing teeth, I have observed that loss
of molars causes the individual to use
his incisors and canines in a way simi-
lar to molars in grinding tough abra-
sive foods. The result often is upper
incisors worn in a concave, scooped-
out manner, a wear pattern frequently
found in molars. Tooth wear occurs
anywhere along the arch, but attrition
typically occurs more in certain re-
gions than in others, and the shape of
the wear planes differs, depending on
the several factors listed above.

The effect of missing teeth on chew-
ing motions is actually unknown. Pre-
sumably tooth loss will cause an altera-
tion of chewing motions to some
degree, since muscle contraction se-
quences and hence jaw movements are
carried out at a preconscious level and
chewing habits are developed in re-
sponse to the oral condition. No data
exist to demonstrate masticatory mo-
tion alteration. The oro-facial complex
is potentially one of the most challeng-
ing regions or systems of primate anat-
omy to study and understand. As it
stands now, masticatory biomechanics
is a kind of "no man's land," with only
a few publications dealing with man's
oro-facial anatomy as a functional unit
(see Sicher and DuBrul 1970).

I appreciate the comments and de-
scriptions of the sequelae to tooth at-
trition offered by Barrett, which add
materially to descriptions of environ-
mental effects on the oro-facial com-
plex. The attrition between teeth
—interproximal wear—is an im-
portant factor in the maintenance of
dental arch integrity. Loss of tooth
crown length and subsequent shrink-
age in arch length is a significant con-
sideration (Begg 1954, Hunt 1959,
Wolpoff 1971b). Not only are there
changes in the arch dimensions, but
also pathological side effects can occur
due to intertooth movement and wear.
However, it is the occlusal surface pat-
tern that varies from population to
population in response to various uses
of the teeth and dietary differences.

For some time I have been struck by
the co-occurrence of extensive wear
and many associated bone lesions, as
described by Barrett, and early age at
death. I have tried without success to
get medical or dental experts with





whom I have discussed the matter to
speculate that these oro-facial patholo-
gies might be a major contributor to
an early death. Gejvall's comment that
severe attrition and the sequelae of
infection were probable causes of
death is therefore most welcome.

Significant among the variables of
tooth wear are the properties of the
tooth tissues themselves. The chemical
composition of the substances chewed
is also likely to influence the rate of
wear, as pointed out by Van Valen and
Dewey. Only a few studies, of a limited
nature, have been carried out to inves-
tigate this question of changes in the
oral environment. It is useful, there-
fore, to learn of the investigations de-
scribed by Van Valen which report a
constant rate of enamel loss in bats and
laboratory rats.

During my work on tooth wear, I
came across several excellent papers
on the microstructural quality of teeth
(Bradford 1960, Kraus 1969, Nalban-
dian, Gonzales, and Sognnaes 1960,
Sognnaes 1956). Sognnaes proposed
that the tooth is a sensitive indicator of
the developmental quality of the or-
ganism and especially of the calcifying
properties of the diet. Kraus agreed
and pointed out that the extended
embryonic period of tooth develop-


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1958. Tooth-size, body-size and "giant"

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Personal Opportunities


Applications are invited for appoint-
ment to the foundation Chair of An-
thropology in the Faculty of Arts. It is
hoped that the appointee will be able
to take up duty in 1973.

The Chair will be located within a
Department of Prehistory and An-
thropology. Courses in prehistory
were established in 1972 under Pro-
fessor D.J. Mulvaney. Arrangements
for the headship of the department
will be determined by the University in
consultation with Professor Mulvaney
and the Professor of Anthropology. It
is envisaged that the department will
develop integrated courses emphasis-
ing the prehistory, social organisation,
and material culture of preindustrial
societies, with particular emphasis on
the Pacific area, including Australia.
Prospective applicants should possess
experience in the traditional fields of
social and cultural anthropology, but
should also have positive interest in
developing the teaching of evolutiona-
ry and ecological aspects of man, his
culture, and his environment, particu-
larly of small-scale societies.

The salary for the post is $A15,369
per annum. The University provides
reasonable travel and removal ex-
penses and assistance with housing for
an appointee from outside Canberra.
Superannuation is on the FSSU pat-
tern with supplementary benefits.
Financial assistance towards study
leave is also available.

The University reserves the right



destruction. American Association for the
Advancement of Science publ. no. 75.
STARR, FREDRICK. 1895. Some steps in human

progress. Meadville: Flood and Vincent.

STEADMAN, F. ST. J. 1937. Malocclusion in

the Tasmanian a origines. Dental Records


STEIN. W. W. 1961. Hualcan: Life in the
highlands of Peru. Ithaca: Cornell Univer-

sity Press.

SWARDSTEDT, T. 1966. Odontological aspects

of a medieval population in the province of

Jamtland/Mid-Sweden. Osteological Re-
search Laboratory, University of Stock-
holm; Department of Roentgenology,
Faculty of Odontology, Karolinska Insti-
tutet, Stockholm; Department of Oral
Histopathology, Faculty of Odontology,
University of Lund; Department of
Question Document, State Laboratory
for Forensic Science, Stockholm.

TAYLOR, R. M. 1963. Cause and effect of

wear of teeth: Further non-metrical stud-
ies of the teeth and palate in Moriori and
Maori skulls. Acta Anatomica (Basel)

TURNER, CHRISTY. 1967. Bite-marks in tule
quids of prehistoric Nevada Indians. Re-






not to make an appointment or to
make an appointment by invitation at
any time.

Further information and the forms
which should accompany an applica-
tion may be obtained from C. G. Plow-
man, Academic Registrar, P.O. Box 4,
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia.



The Chicago Folklore Prize is sup-
ported by an endowment established
by the International Folklore Associa-
tion and is awarded annually by the
University of Chicago for an im-
portant contribution to the study of
folklore. Students, candidates for
higher degrees, and established schol-
ars may compete for the prize. The
contribution may be a monograph, a
thesis, a dissertation, an annotated and
interpreted collection of materials, or,
in exceptional cases, a textbook. (Ar-
ticles in periodicals or very brief
monographs cannot be considered.)
No restriction is placed on the choice
of topic or material: the term "folk-
lore" is used in its broadest sense (e.g.,
American, European folklore, etc.; an-
thropological, literary, religious folk-
lore, etc). Entries, written in any of
the major Western languages, are wel-
comed from any country in the world.

Material which has appeared in
print may be submitted within one
year from the time of publication. If
the contestant wishes to have his entry
returned, he should include the return
postage. The successful contestant will



ports of the University of California Archaeo-
logical Survey 70:117-22.

1969. Dental chipping in Aleuts, Es-

kimos, and Indians. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 31:303-10.

VESTAL, PAUL A. 1952. Ethnobotany of the

Ramah Navaho. Papers of the Peabody

Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University 40(4).

WEIDENREICH, F. 1937. Sinanthropus denti-

tion. Palaeontologia Sinica 101:1-180.

WOLPOFF, MILFORD H. 1971a. Metric trends
in hominid dental evolution. Case Western

Reserve University Studies in Anthro-
pology no. 2. [DSB*]
WOLPOFF, M. H. 1971b. Interstitial wear.

American Journal of Physical Anthropolo

34:205-28. [GAW
YABE, T., K. MORIYA, and F. HARADA. 1970.

Ecological studies on house rats and
mice. I. An examination on molar wear
of albino rats for an age index. Japanese
Journal of Sanitary Zoology 21:78-81.








be asked to donate his entry, if it is
already printed, to the University of
Chicago; if an award goes to an entry
submitted in typed form, the author is
requested to send a copy to the Uni-
versity of Chicago if it is later pub-

The prize provides a cash award of
about $75. If the entries merit special
consideration and funds are available,
more than one prize may be awarded;
on the other hand, the judges may
recommend that no award be made in
a given year. Former prizewinners will
not normally be eligible to win the
prize a second time; however, those
who have received an honorable men-
tion will continue to be eligible to win a

The 1972 prizewinners are as fol-
lows: First prize, Eleanor R. Long
(Santa Clara, Calif., U.S.A.), for her
book "The Maid" and "The Hangman":
Myth and Tradition in a Popular Ballad;

second prize, Ruth Firestone
(Boulder, Colo., U.S.A.), for her dis-
sertation Elements of Traditional Struc-
ture in the Couplet Epics of the Late
Middle High German Cycle, and John I.
Kolehmainen (Tiffin, Ohio, U.S.A.),
for his manuscript The Kalevala; hon-
orable mention, Charles C. Adams
(Chico, Calif., U.S.A.), for his book
Boontling: An American Lingo, and Ma-
rion D. De B. Kilson (Lexington, Md.,
U.S.A.) for her book Kpela Lala: Ga
Religious Songs and Symbols.

Entries must be submitted before
April 1, 1973 to the Chairman of the
Department of Germanic Languages
and Literatures, University of Chi-
cago, 1050 E. 59th St., Chicago, Ill.
60637, U.S.A.