High variability in the dentition of Homo can create uncertainties in the correct identification of isolated teeth. For instance, standard tooth identification criteria cannot determine with absolute certainty if an isolated tooth is a second or third maxillary molar. In this contribution, using occlusal fingerprint analysis, we reassess the identification of Krapina D58 (Homo neanderthalensis), which is catalogued as a third maxillary molar. We have hypothesized that the presence/absence of the distal occlusal wear facets can be used to differentiate second from third maxillary molars. The results obtained confirm our hypothesis, showing a significant difference between second and third maxillary molars. In particular we note the complete absence of Facets 7 and 10 in all third molars included in this analysis. The presence of these facets in Krapina D58 eliminates the possibility that it is a third maxillary molar. Consequently it should be reclassified as a second molar. Although this method is limited by the degree of dental wear (i.e., unworn teeth cannot be analyzed) and to individual molars in full occlusion, it can be used for tooth identification when other common criteria are not sufficient to discriminate between second and third maxillary molars.
|Pages (from-to)||306 - 312|
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||American Journal of Physical Anthropology|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|