Canine “honing” in Australopithecus afarensis



The maxillary canines of Australopithecus afarensis show a distal wear facet that extends from the apex of the crown to a point near the distal cingulum. Although these facets bear a superficial resemblance to the honing facets found on the projecting portions of the canines of other anthropoids, a more detailed examination provided in this paper shows that they are not homologous or functionally equivalent. The facets are not related to the use of the maxillary canine as a weapon or as an additional masticatory surface. Instead, their presence in A. afarensis represented a blunting or dulling of the posterior edge of C so that its occulusion with P3 would be consistent with cheek tooth occlusion.