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Keywords:

  • Dental occlusion;
  • Malocclusion;
  • Melanesia;
  • Microevolution;
  • Geographic variation

Abstract

Patterns of geographic microdifferentiation for dental occlusion and the size and shape of the dental arches are described for 14 villages on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea. Occlusal variables, such as overjet, overbite, molar relationships, crowding or spacing, and malalignment vary less among villages than do arch length and width. Arch length and width decrease in size from north to south. The pattern of biological distance among villages for occlusal variables and arch size correspond poorly to anthropometric, linguistic, geographic and migrational distances. The value of occlusal variables and arch size for discriminating among populations, the biological interpretation of multivariate data and the objectives of research on geographic microdifferentiation are discussed.