Dental behavior and long-term dietary reconstruction of El Sidrón Neandertals derived from molar macrowear patterns

Almudena Estalrrich, Luca Fiorenza, Ulrike Menz, Antonio Rosas, Ottmar Kullmer

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Molar macrowear is a cumulative process which occurs during the individuals’ lifetime. Its study provides strong insights into long term dietary and dental behavior. In this study we analyze the occlusal macrowear pattern by applying the Occlusal Fingerprint Analysis (OFA) method to reconstruct the wear facet distribution and occlusal pathways on the maxillary first and second molars (both right and left) from 11 Neandertal individuals from El Sidrón cave in Northern Spain [1], and place the individuals in the context of other Neandertals previously published [2]. Wear facets on the occlusal surface of molar crowns were quantified from digitized high-resolution casts, and functional parameters such as the area, orientation, and inclination were measured. 3-D occlusal dental compasses of single molars indicate major movements during mastication [3]. The relative facet areas show that the overall power stroke pattern of the group is characterized by a dominance of buccal and lingual Phase I, whereas Phase II is less developed. In this respect the macrowear pattern is similar to that of other Neandertals characterized as mixed diet consumers who occupied deciduous woodland habitats [2]. This is expected since paleoenvironmental reconstruction from the El Sidrón deposits suggests a temperate phase of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3, with temperate Atlantic oceanic conditions, and a mix of both coniferous and deciduous forests with some meadows. Moreover, all adult and sub-adult individuals from the group, reflect a common occlusion pattern with a prevalence of vertical motion, indicating no ontogenetic changes within this familial group on the overall dental food processing. The results here presented are part of a multidisciplinary approach to the reconstruction of the paleodiet and den- tal behavior on the El Sidrón Neandertals, and complement the previous studies based on the analysis of dental calculus [4] and dental microwear [5], and enlarge the dietary signals variability within Neandertals with a mixed diet.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event7th Annual ESHE Meeting - Leiden, Netherlands
Duration: 20 Sep 201724 Sep 2017
Conference number: 7


Conference7th Annual ESHE Meeting
Internet address

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Estalrrich, A., Fiorenza, L., Menz, U., Rosas, A., & Kullmer, O. (2017). Dental behavior and long-term dietary reconstruction of El Sidrón Neandertals derived from molar macrowear patterns. Abstract from 7th Annual ESHE Meeting, Leiden, Netherlands.