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Keywords:

  • odontometrics;
  • phenotypic diversity;
  • geographic variation;
  • interpopulation relationships

Abstract

Mesiodistal and buccolingual crown diameters of all teeth recorded in 72 major human population groups and seven geographic groups were analyzed. The results obtained are fivefold. First, the largest teeth are found among Australians, followed by Melanesians, Micronesians, sub-Saharan Africans, and Native Americans. Philippine Negritos, Jomon/Ainu, and Western Eurasians have small teeth, while East/Southeast Asians and Polynesians are intermediate in overall tooth size. Second, in terms of odontometric shape factors, world extremes are Europeans, aboriginal New World populations, and to a lesser extent, Australians. Third, East/Southeast Asians share similar dental features with sub-Saharan Africans, and fall in the center of the phenetic space occupied by a wide array of samples. Fourth, the patterning of dental variation among major geographic populations is more or less consistent with those obtained from genetic and craniometric data. Fifth, once differences in population size between sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, South/West Asia, Australia, and Far East, and genetic drift are taken into consideration, the pattern of sub-Saharan African distinctiveness becomes more or less comparable to that based on genetic and craniometric data. As such, worldwide patterning of odontometric variation provides an additional avenue in the ongoing investigation of the origin(s) of anatomically modern humans. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.