Enamel microstructure of the hominid KB 5223 from Kromdraai, South Africa


  • Rodrigo S. Lacruz

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute for Human Evolution, School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
    2. Center for Cranio Facial Molecular Biology, School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033
    • Center for Cranio Facial Molecular Biology, School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, 2250 Alcazar St., CSA 103, Los Angeles, CA 90033
    Search for more papers by this author


The Plio-Pleistocene site of Kromdraai, South Africa, is well known for the recovery of the holotype of Paranthropus robustus, one of nine individual hominids recovered from this site to date. Among the Kromdraai sample, the specimen KB 5223 comprises several isolated deciduous and permanent lower teeth assigned to Paranthropus, the only recognized genus at this site. However, a more recent analysis of this specimen suggested that it should be classified as Homo. The lower right first permanent molar of KB 5223 had been previously sectioned along the tips of the mesial cusps, exposing its enamel microstructure. Previous studies had indicated differences between Homo and Paranthropus at the microstructural level. A portable confocal scanning microscope was used to describe details of the enamel microstructure of the M1 and I1 of this specimen. Angles formed between the striae of Retzius and the enamel dentine junction (EDJ), daily secretion rates in cuspal enamel of the protoconid and metaconid and crown formation time of the RM1 are provided. The number of perikymata on the right I1 was counted. Results indicate that some features recorded in the KB 5223 molar differ from those of Paranthropus. However, the number of perikymata on the I1 is lower than values so far reported for early Homo but similar to Paranthropus. Crown formation time of KB 5223 M1 was markedly lower than mean values of M1 in H. sapiens, but similar to other early hominids. Daily secretion rates in the cuspal enamel of KB 5223 M1 were higher than in modern humans. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.