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

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Abstract

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.

Ancillary