The drawbacks of the modern face of Homo antecessor

A study led by the University of Bordeaux and the Dental Anthropology Group of the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) reveals that the species Homo antecessor, found in level TD6 of the Gran Dolina site in the Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos), already endured the drawbacks of having insufficient space for the third molar or wisdom tooth to erupt.

Analysis of the maxilla ATD6-69, “the face” of Homo antecessor, using high-resolution techniques such as micro-computed tomography carried out at the CENIEH, has enabled the identification of signs matching ectopic development, that is, outside the proper location for the third molar, and the secondary impacting pf the second molar with its retention within the alveolar bone. “Specifically, the wisdom tooth was undergoing development upon the crown of the second molar”, says Laura Martín-Francés, principal author of this study.

In this study, the hypothesis of whether the ectopic molar of this individual, whose approximate age was 10 years, was due to a combination of factors such as the characteristic modern face and the large size of the teeth of this child from Atapuerca, is discussed for the first time. This peculiarity would have led to the lack of space for the normal development of the wisdom tooth and the consequent retention of the second molar.

“While the particular evolution in this individual is unknown, the prognosis in these cases includes the development of caries, periodontitis and even cysts. Thus, we can be sure that around one million years ago, this person would have suffered from severe toothache”, affirms Martín-Francés.

- Advertisement -

For the moment, evidence of this anomaly is only known from a single individual of this species, although the imminent excavation of the entire surface of level TD6 at Gran Dolina will offer new fossil remains to find out whether this circumstance was typical of Homo antecessor due to its modern face.

- Advertisement -
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

Mobile Application


Related Articles

Excavation of medieval shipbuilders reveals a Roman head of Mercury

Excavations of a medieval shipbuilders has led to the discovery of a Roman settlement and a Roman head of Mercury.

Researchers find that Żagań-Lutnia5 is an Iron Age stronghold

Archaeologists have conducted a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey of Żagań-Lutnia5, revealing that the monument is an Iron Age stronghold.

Rare copper dagger found in Polish forest

A rare copper dagger from over 4,000-years-ago has been discovered in the forests near Korzenica, southeastern Poland.

Neanderthals created stone tools held together by a multi-component adhesive

A new study published in the journal Science Advances has found evidence of Neanderthals creating stone tools that are held together using a multi-component adhesive.

Roman funerary altar found partially buried in Torre river

Archaeologists have recovered a Roman funerary altar which was found partially buried in the Torree river in the municipality of San Vito al Torre, Italy.

Post-medieval township discovered in Scottish forest

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a pre-medieval township in the Glen Brittle Forest on the Isle of Skye.

Geophysical study finds evidence of “labyrinth” buried beneath Mitla

A geophysical study has found underground structures and tunnels beneath Mitla – The Zapotec “Place of the Dead”

Discovery of a Romanesque religious structure rewrites history of Frauenchiemsee

Archaeologists from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation have announced the discovery of a Romanesque religious structure on the island of Frauenchiemsee, the second largest of the three islands in Chiemsee, Germany.