Post-Pleistocene changes in the human dentition


  • Earlier versions of this paper were presented before the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in the symposium Teeth as Tools, organized by Dr. Stephen Molnar, Washington, D.C., March, 1970; and at the meetings of the American Anthropological Association in San Diego, November, 1970.


Published evidence indicates sharp reductions in the hominid dentition following the end of the Pleistocene. These reductions, both in size and in morphological complexity, have proceeded farthest in those areas where culture change has occurred most rapidly. The model proposed here suggests that post-Pleistocene dental reduction may be the result of the change in selective forces consequent from the invention and use of pottery and the changes in food-preparation techniques after the end of the Pleistocene. Models for testing this hypothesis are discussed.