Beyond shovel-shaped incisors: Neandertal dental morphology in a comparative context

Shara Bailey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Most research on Neandertal teeth has focused on shovel shaped incisors and/or taurodont molars. In the past 15 years there has been a renewed interested in Neandertal dental morphology, especially with regard to how they compare to recent and fossil modern humans. However, no complete description of Neandertal dental morphology has been published since the mid-1950s. Many more Neandertals and other fossil hominins have been discovered since then and are available for a comparative study. This paper provides a description of Neandertal dental morphology and places that morphology in a comparative fossil hominin context. It differs from previous work by focusing on fossil hominin variation (as opposed to contemporary modern human variation) and provides a comparative baseline in which Neandertal dental morphology can be assessed. The four comparative samples include European and West Asian Neandertals, European non-Neandertal archaics, South African/West Asian early modern humans and European early modern humans (e.g., Upper Paleolithic). A mean measure of divergence analysis shows that Neandertals are significantly different from early modern human groups, being four times more divergent from Afro-Asian and European early modern human samples than the early modern human samples are from each other. Moreover, Neandertals are more divergent from early modern Europeans than they are from the early modern Afro-Asians. Contrary to the results of a previous study they are significantly divergent from non-Neandertal archaics. The implications for these results are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)253-267
    Number of pages15
    JournalPeriodicum Biologorum
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jul 2006


    • Africa
    • Europe
    • Fossil hominins
    • H. heidelbergeneis
    • H. sapiens
    • Introduction
    • Multivariate analysis
    • Teeth
    • West Asia

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
    • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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