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Brief communication: The Uto-Aztecan premolar in early hunter-gatherers from South-Central North America



The Uto-Aztecan premolar is a discrete dental trait found in low frequency (<2%) among world populations. The highest frequencies of the trait have been found among the indigenous populations of North America and, to a lesser extent, South America. Because of the trait's relatively higher frequency in the Western Hemisphere, the antiquity and distribution of the feather is important for reconstructing the biocultural interactions of prehistoric populations. While early research concluded that the Uto-Aztecan premolar originated in the American Southwest around 4,000 years Before Present (BP), more recent studies have discovered the trait across the Americas and in parts of Europe and Asia. For this study, over 300 dentitions representing foragers and farmers in south-central North America were examined. The trait was found in relatively high frequency (over 11%) in Archaic hunter-gatherer populations from Central Texas, with high frequencies also found in the adjacent western Gulf Coastal Plain. The presence of this trait in Early Archaic populations suggests that the trait was present by 8,000 BP and persisted at a high frequency into the Late Archaic period. Am J Phys Anthropol 149:318–322, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.