Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Late Middle Pleistocene teeth from South China (Liu et al. 2013)

From the paper:

The Panxian Dadong P3 falls in the upper left quadrant, an area that, with the exception of two out of the nine Atapuerca-SH specimens and S7-34, is exclusively occupied by recent humans. Thus this geometric morphometric analysis indicates that the general crown conformation of the Panxian Dadong P3 resembles some European Middle Pleistocene hominins, Chinese Upper Pleistocene hominins, and particularly the recent human specimens. 
According to the above comparisons, the Panxian Dadong P3 preserves some primitive and highly polymorphic traits, but in general its conformation is derived. Its occlusal morphology is simple, and the contour is symmetrical with a lingual cusp that is narrower than the buccal one. All these features make the Panxian Dadong P3 most similar to Upper Pleistocene hominins and recent humans in our comparative samples.
I suspect that the age of these teeth will render them useless for ancient DNA work.
Journal of Human Evolution doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2012.10.012
Late Middle Pleistocene hominin teeth from Panxian Dadong, South China
Wu Liu et al.
The hominin teeth and evidence of hominin activities recovered from 1991 to 2005 at the Panxian Dadong site in South China are dated to the late Middle Pleistocene (MIS 8–6 or ca. 130–300 ka), a period for which very little is known about the morphology of Asian populations. The present study provides the first detailed morphometric description and comparisons of four hominin teeth (I1, C1, P3 and P3) from this site. Our study shows that the Panxian Dadong teeth combine archaic and derived features that align them with Middle and Upper Pleistocene fossils from East and West Asia and Europe. These teeth do not display any typical Neanderthal features and they are generally more derived than other contemporaneous populations from Asia and Africa. However, the derived traits are not diagnostic enough to specifically link the Panxian Dadong teeth to Homo sapiens, a common problem when analyzing the Middle Pleistocene dental record from Africa and Asia. These findings are contextualized in the discussion of the evolutionary course of Asian Middle Pleistocene hominins, and they highlight the necessity of incorporating the Asian fossil record in the still open debate about the origin of H. sapiens.

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