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Root caries on a Paranthropus robustus third molar from Drimolen.

Towle, I, Riga, A, Irish, JD, Dori, I, Menter, C and Moggi-Cecchi, J (2019) Root caries on a Paranthropus robustus third molar from Drimolen. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. ISSN 1096-8644

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OBJECTIVES: Dental caries is often perceived as a modern human disease. However, their presence is documented in many early human groups, various nonhuman primates and, increasingly, our hominin ancestors and relatives. In this study, we describe an antemortem lesion on the root of a Paranthropus robustus third molar from Drimolen, South Africa, which likely represents another example of caries in fossil hominins. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The molar, DNH 40, is dated to 2.0-1.5 Ma and displays a lesion on the mesial root surface, extending from the cementoenamel junction 3 mm down toward the apex. The position and severity of the lesion was macroscopically recorded and micro-CT scanned to determine the extent of dentine involvement. RESULTS: A differential diagnosis indicates root caries, as the lesion is indistinguishable from clinical examples. Although necrotic in appearance, external tertiary dentine is evident on a micro CT scan. Gingival recession and/or continuous eruption of the tooth as a result of extensive occlusal wear would have occurred to facilitate caries formation. Therefore, the lesion is likely linked to relative old age of this individual. DISCUSSION: This new example increases the total number of carious lesions described in P. robustus teeth to 10, on occlusal, interproximal, and now, root surfaces. Beyond the consumption of caries-causing food, caries formation would have also required the presence of requisite intraoral cariogenic bacteria in this individual and the species. Of interest, the presence of tertiary dentine on the outward surface suggests the DNH 40 lesion may have been arrested, that is, no longer active, perhaps relating to a change in diet or oral microbiome just prior to the individual's death.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Towle, I, Riga, A, Irish, JD, Dori, I, Menter, C, Moggi‐Cecchi, J. Root caries on a Paranthropus robustus third molar from Drimolen. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2019; 1– 5, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.23891. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0603 Evolutionary Biology, 1601 Anthropology, 2101 Archaeology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: Wiley
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2019 09:15
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 09:12
DOI or ID number: 10.1002/ajpa.23891
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10994
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