Australopithecus africanus Had Similar Dental Issues As Us

Ian Towle of John Moores University and colleagues published an interesting paper in the International Journal of Paleopathology that illuminates early hominins had similar dental issues as we do now. Dental erosion from brushing too vigorously as well as fizzy drinks, fruit juice, wine, and other acidic food and drink can leave shallow, shiny, lesions in the enamel and root surface. Overtime deeper holes known as non-carious cervical lesions or NCCLs form.

Australopithecus africanus teeth with lesions. Ian Towle.
Australopithecus africanus teeth with lesions. Ian Towle.

The authors of the paper found such lesions on the fossilized teeth of Australopithecus africanus. Early hominins faced dental abrasion from eating tough and fibrous foods. And for these lesions to get as big as they these ones, they would still have needed a diet high in acidic foods like citrus or tubers. I find this particular study interesting as it illustrates some of the behaviors and life histories of 2.5m year-old humans.

2 thoughts on “Australopithecus africanus Had Similar Dental Issues As Us

  1. That is interesting. I didn’t know tubers were acidic, but combined with grit would be rough on dental enamel & exposed tooth roots. Compare this to the mutation 1.5ma in apolipoproteins allowing fatty meat consumption/digestion but linked to atherosclerosis.

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