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Keywords:

  • teeth;
  • life history;
  • Neandertals

Abstract

Did Neandertals share with modern humans their prolonged periods of growth and delayed ages of maturation? During the past five years, renewed interest in this question has produced dental studies with seemingly contradictory results. Some suggest fast dental growth,1, 2 while others appear to suggest a slower, modern-human dental growth pattern.3, 4 Although some apparent contradictions can be reconciled, there remain questions that can be resolved only with additional data and cross-validation of methods. Moreover, several difficulties are inherent in using dental development to gauge Neandertal life histories. Even with complete data on Neandertal dental development, questions are likely to remain about the meaning of those data with regard to understanding Neandertal life histories.