Diet and cultural diversity in Neanderthals and modern humans from dental macrowear analysis

Luca Fiorenza, Stefano Benazzi, Almudena Estalrrich, Ottmar Kullmer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

Abstract

Neanderthals have been traditionally described to be at the very top of the food chain, with a diet consisting almost exclusively of meat. On the other hand, anatomically modern humans (AMH) are thought to be a more flexible species with the exploitation of various food sources. Here we analyze dental macrowear of a large sample of Neanderthal and AMH postcanine teeth from different chronological and geographical areas of Europe and the Near East, applying a well-established method called Occlusal Fingerprint Analysis (OFA). This digital approach is based on the identification and analysis of attrition and abrasive occlusal wear facets (defined as polished homologous areas with well-defined borders) with the aim to reconstruct the jaw movements responsible for their formation. Thus, it enables to obtain information on dietary and non-dietary habits of these populations. Wear facet size and distribution seem to correlate well with diet, showing a large variation within Neanderthals and AMH, which mostly depends on the habitats they inhabited. We found ecomorphological signals distinguishing populations who lived in cold habitats from those who inhabited warm climatic conditions, suggesting an increase in meat consumption at the northern latitudes. In contrast, wear facet inclination is strongly influenced by the environmental abrasiveness accidentally introduced in the mouth through food preparation methods. In addition, we have also identified non-dietary wear on the postcanine dentition in Mediterranean populations that suggests the use of teeth as tools for daily task activities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts
EditorsChristopher W. Schmidt, James T. Watson
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherAcademic Press
Chapter3
Pages39-72
Number of pages34
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9780128156001
ISBN (Print)9780128155998
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Dental macrowear
  • Dental microwear
  • Primatology
  • Palaeoanthropology
  • Archaeology

Cite this

Fiorenza, L., Benazzi, S., Estalrrich, A., & Kullmer, O. (2020). Diet and cultural diversity in Neanderthals and modern humans from dental macrowear analysis. In C. W. Schmidt, & J. T. Watson (Eds.), Dental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts (1st ed., pp. 39-72). London, UK: Academic Press.
Fiorenza, Luca ; Benazzi, Stefano ; Estalrrich, Almudena ; Kullmer, Ottmar. / Diet and cultural diversity in Neanderthals and modern humans from dental macrowear analysis. Dental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts. editor / Christopher W. Schmidt ; James T. Watson. 1st. ed. London, UK : Academic Press, 2020. pp. 39-72
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Fiorenza, L, Benazzi, S, Estalrrich, A & Kullmer, O 2020, Diet and cultural diversity in Neanderthals and modern humans from dental macrowear analysis. in CW Schmidt & JT Watson (eds), Dental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts. 1st edn, Academic Press, London, UK, pp. 39-72.

Diet and cultural diversity in Neanderthals and modern humans from dental macrowear analysis. / Fiorenza, Luca; Benazzi, Stefano; Estalrrich, Almudena ; Kullmer, Ottmar.

Dental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts. ed. / Christopher W. Schmidt; James T. Watson. 1st. ed. London, UK : Academic Press, 2020. p. 39-72.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

TY - CHAP

T1 - Diet and cultural diversity in Neanderthals and modern humans from dental macrowear analysis

AU - Fiorenza, Luca

AU - Benazzi, Stefano

AU - Estalrrich, Almudena

AU - Kullmer, Ottmar

PY - 2020

Y1 - 2020

N2 - Neanderthals have been traditionally described to be at the very top of the food chain, with a diet consisting almost exclusively of meat. On the other hand, anatomically modern humans (AMH) are thought to be a more flexible species with the exploitation of various food sources. Here we analyze dental macrowear of a large sample of Neanderthal and AMH postcanine teeth from different chronological and geographical areas of Europe and the Near East, applying a well-established method called Occlusal Fingerprint Analysis (OFA). This digital approach is based on the identification and analysis of attrition and abrasive occlusal wear facets (defined as polished homologous areas with well-defined borders) with the aim to reconstruct the jaw movements responsible for their formation. Thus, it enables to obtain information on dietary and non-dietary habits of these populations. Wear facet size and distribution seem to correlate well with diet, showing a large variation within Neanderthals and AMH, which mostly depends on the habitats they inhabited. We found ecomorphological signals distinguishing populations who lived in cold habitats from those who inhabited warm climatic conditions, suggesting an increase in meat consumption at the northern latitudes. In contrast, wear facet inclination is strongly influenced by the environmental abrasiveness accidentally introduced in the mouth through food preparation methods. In addition, we have also identified non-dietary wear on the postcanine dentition in Mediterranean populations that suggests the use of teeth as tools for daily task activities.

AB - Neanderthals have been traditionally described to be at the very top of the food chain, with a diet consisting almost exclusively of meat. On the other hand, anatomically modern humans (AMH) are thought to be a more flexible species with the exploitation of various food sources. Here we analyze dental macrowear of a large sample of Neanderthal and AMH postcanine teeth from different chronological and geographical areas of Europe and the Near East, applying a well-established method called Occlusal Fingerprint Analysis (OFA). This digital approach is based on the identification and analysis of attrition and abrasive occlusal wear facets (defined as polished homologous areas with well-defined borders) with the aim to reconstruct the jaw movements responsible for their formation. Thus, it enables to obtain information on dietary and non-dietary habits of these populations. Wear facet size and distribution seem to correlate well with diet, showing a large variation within Neanderthals and AMH, which mostly depends on the habitats they inhabited. We found ecomorphological signals distinguishing populations who lived in cold habitats from those who inhabited warm climatic conditions, suggesting an increase in meat consumption at the northern latitudes. In contrast, wear facet inclination is strongly influenced by the environmental abrasiveness accidentally introduced in the mouth through food preparation methods. In addition, we have also identified non-dietary wear on the postcanine dentition in Mediterranean populations that suggests the use of teeth as tools for daily task activities.

KW - Dental macrowear

KW - Dental microwear

KW - Primatology

KW - Palaeoanthropology

KW - Archaeology

UR - https://www.elsevier.com/books/dental-wear-in-evolutionary-and-biocultural-contexts/schmidt/978-0-12-815599-8

M3 - Chapter (Book)

SN - 9780128155998

SP - 39

EP - 72

BT - Dental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts

A2 - Schmidt, Christopher W.

A2 - Watson, James T.

PB - Academic Press

CY - London, UK

ER -

Fiorenza L, Benazzi S, Estalrrich A, Kullmer O. Diet and cultural diversity in Neanderthals and modern humans from dental macrowear analysis. In Schmidt CW, Watson JT, editors, Dental Wear in Evolutionary and Biocultural Contexts. 1st ed. London, UK: Academic Press. 2020. p. 39-72