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On dental wear, dental work, and oral health in the type specimen (LB1) of Homo floresiensis



The claim that the lower left first mandibular molar of LB1, the type specimen of Homo floresiensis, displays endodontic work, and a filling is assessed by digital radiography and micro-CT scanning. The M1 tooth crown is heavily worn and exhibits extensive dentine exposure that is stained white, but there is no trace of endodontic treatment or a dental filling in this Indonesian fossil dated to 17.1-19.0 kya. Dental calculus (commonly observed in foragers) is present on the teeth of LB1, but there are no observable caries. The pattern of dental attrition in the mandibles of both LB1/2 and LB6/1 (moderate to extensive flat wear across the entire arch) is consistent with that seen in Plio-Pleistocene Homo fossils and in modern hunter-gatherers, and is not typical of most agriculturalists. We conclude that the dental-work and farming hypotheses are falsified and therefore irrelevant to the debate over the taxonomy and phylogeny of H. floresiensis. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.