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Keywords:

  • CT scans;
  • Teeth;
  • Long bones;
  • Morphometry;
  • Dimensions;
  • Fossils

Abstract

This paper explores the potential of high-resolution computed tomography (CT) as a morphometric tool in paleoanthropology. The accuracy of linear measurements of enamel thickness and cortical bone thickness taken from CT scans is evaluated by making comparison with measurements taken directly from physical sections. The measurements of cortical bone are taken on extant and fossil specimens with and without attached matrix, and the dental specimens studied include a sample of 12 extant human molars. Local CT numbers (representing X-ray, attenuation) are used to determine the exact position of the boundaries of a structure. Using this technique most studied dimensions, including four of human molar enamel thickness, could be obtained from CT scans with a maximum error range of ±0.1 mm. The limitations of the method are discussed with special reference to problems associated with highly mineralized fossils. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.