A reassessment of the Neanderthal teeth from Taddeo cave (southern Italy)

Stefano Benazzi, Bence Viola, Ottmar Kullmer, Luca Fiorenza, Katerina Harvati, Tobias Paul, Giorgio Gruppioni, Gerhard W Weber, Francesco Mallegni

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23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Middle Paleolithic fossil human teeth from Taddeo cave in southwestern Italy were discovered in 1967, but to date only scanty and partially incorrect information has been published about them. The teeth were recovered in a reddish sandy layer from the cave s floor, which is attributed either to an early phase of Wurm I (OIS 5c or 5d) or a transition phase between Wurm I and Wurm II (OIS 5a). In this paper, we present a revised morphological description and morphometric comparisons of the four dental remains discovered. Apart from a classic morphometric comparison, we also provide a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the internal morphology with the aid of micro-CT imaging. In addition, virtual restoration and matching of adjacent teeth were performed with 3D digital modeling and Computer-Aided Design techniques. Occlusal Fingerprint Analysis was also employed to help correctly identify each tooth. While in the previous studies, Taddeo 1 was considered either an upper right canine or a lower right canine, in the present work it has been definitely identified as lower left canine. Taddeo 2 has been reclassified as a right P(4) instead of a right P(3). Based on the occlusal and interproximal wear, we have also shown that Taddeo 2 and Taddeo 3 (right M(1)) belong to the same individual. All of the teeth show characteristic Neanderthal features in crown morphology and fissure pattern. However, although Taddeo 4 shows morphological features typical of Neanderthal M(1)s, some morphometric results (large enamel thickness, low dentine volume) recall more modern humans than Neanderthals. This result might suggest that, at least for lower first molars, the Neanderthal range of variation is large and still not clearly understood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377 - 387
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Volume61
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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