Human dental microwear caused by calcium oxalate phytoliths in prehistoric diet of the lower Pecos region, Texas



Recent research demonstrates that silica phytoliths of dietary origin are associated with microwear of human teeth. Previous research has shown that severe enamel microwear and dental wear characterizes Archaic hunter-gatherers in the lower Pecos region of west Texas. Calcium oxalate crystals are especially common in Archaic coprolites. The vast majority are derived from prickly pear and agave, which were the dietary staples in west Texas for 6,000 years. The calcium oxalate phytoliths are harder than enamel. Therefore, calcium oxalate crystals are the most likely source of previously documented dental microwear and wear in the lower Pecos region. Am J Phys Anthropol 107:297–304, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.