A quantitative investigation of irregular cuspules in human maxillary permanent molars



The frequency of occurrence of anomalous cusps or tubercles on human upper first molars was investigated in seven racial populations using moiré contourography, which permits the three-dimensional measurement of minute cusps. Tubercles on the mesial marginal ridge were more frequently found in Mongoloid populations (Japanese and Eskimo) than in others. The frequency of the protoconule was high in Eskimos and Negroids (Bantu and San). The lingual paracone tubercle (mesial cusp) showed a particularly high frequency in Australian aborigines. The metaconule was rare or absent in all of the populations. Caucasoid groups (Dutch White and Asiatic Indian) showed generally low frequencies of all these abnormal tubercles, especially the distal accessory cusp (C5). Racial differences in the frequencies of occurrence may offer a key to understanding the adaptive significance of these traits and human microevolution. Confusion in nomenclature for upper molar tubercles is also discussed.