Chattering teethDental anthropology reveals clues to our own ancestry.

Open wide! Your teeth may be able to tell you quite a bit about your ancestry. Certain populations commonly have teeth with special characteristics. These characteristics can be used to identify people of specific ancestry. Ridges, bumps, t shapes and other unusual tooth formations are all clues to where we came from.

Dental anthropology is the study of dental remains. One aspect of this field of study is the process of determining the race or heritage of a person through their teeth. Dental anthropologists use teeth to compare ancient and modern man, and population groups. They search for similarities and differences in the structure of teeth and also analyze and compare how they are related. Dental anthropologists search for these important indicators of a person’s origins and ancestry. And they uncover many important clues that point them in the right direction.

For example, if you have a “talon cusp,” this anomaly is found in only 1% of the global population overall. And a variation of this specific dental ridge called the “Uto-Aztecan bulge” on the upper molars is only found among the Native American Indians , predominantly in Arizona. Native Americans, Eskimos, Aboriginal tribes of Australia and Aleutians all share certain unique dental characteristics unique from other groups. Other characteristics help to identify people of European ancestry.

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