Variability in shape of the dental arcade of Homo sapiens in Late Pleistocene and modern samples from southern Africa

Thackeray, J Francis
Kieser, J A
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Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research
Mandibles are among the most common skeletal elements of Late Pleistocene specimens of Homo sapiens from southern African sites (notably Klasies River Mouth and Border Cave). For this reason mandibles have been selected for study to compare with samples drawn from modem populations (including South African negroes, Khoisanoid "Bushmen" and caucasoids). An analysis of shape of the dental arcade, based on the spatial distribution of molars, premolars and canines, indicates that several of the Late Pleistocene samples (including KRM 41815) are outside the range of variation found in modem African and caucasoid populations, and in this respect, cannot be described as "anatomically modem", sensu strictu. There appears to be a trend in the process of modernisation, from very flared dental arcades (notably in the case of the Kabwe skull, representing "archaic" H. sapiens), through moderately flared arcades (as found in Late Pleistocene "nearly modem" samples) towards a less flared condition which is found in modern Africans and caucasoids.
"anatomically modern man", Late Pleistocene, human evolution