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New evidence on the spatiotemporal distribution and evolution of the Uto-Aztecan premolar

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Abstract

Uto-Aztecan premolar (UAP) is a rare morphological feature of the maxillary first premolar that occurs in Native American populations with frequencies ranging 0–16.7%. A recent summary of UAP by Delgado-Burbano et al. (2010) suggests the trait evolved around 4,000 BP in the American Southwest where the earliest cases occur and where the trait exists at the highest frequencies among contemporary populations. In this article, we present new data on UAP prevalence from an Archaic North American sample from Buckeye Knoll, Texas (circa 7,500–6,200 cal BP). Buckeye Knoll preserves a single case of UAP, and a sample frequency of 3.6%. In addition, we confirm the presence of UAP in other eastern North American Archaic skeletal samples from the Windover and Harris Creek at Tick Island sites in Florida. We also review the dental morphological literature to assess: 1) whether UAP prevalence is limited to New World populations, and 2) whether the trait's antiquity can be extended further into the Early Holocene Paleoindian period. Additional cases of UAP are presented from the Pacific coast of South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Combined, these data greatly expand the spatial and temporal distribution of UAP and suggest the trait evolved considerably earlier than previously thought. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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