The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Investigation of dental metric and morphological patterns associated with expression of the Uto-Aztecan premolar


Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington

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The Uto-Aztecan premolar (UAP) is a rare dental variant observed primarily on the first maxillary premolar. In skeletal samples of moderate size, population frequency of the trait is typically low (<5%). Although the UAP was originally believed to originate around 4,000 BP and have a presence restricted to New World populations, recent reinvestigation has revealed a much wider temporal and geographic distribution. Despite these new developments, there are still a number of heavily studied prehistoric skeletal populations in which no data on the UAP exists. Furthermore, it is unknown whether individuals that do express the trait are phenotypically distinct in any other aspects of the dentition.

This study presents new information regarding the presence of the UAP in several skeletal samples from the lower Illinois Valley and American Bottom regions. Similar to previous findings, frequency of the trait was low, ranging from 0-3%. Instances of both bilateral and asymmetrical expression were observed. In addition, all other morphological variants described in the ASU Dental Anthropology System and buccolingual and mesiodistal dimensions of the crown were recorded for every individual in each skeletal sample. This allowed for investigation into whether inter-trait correlations or metric trends exist in relation to those that express the UAP.

This study was funded by the David C. Skomp Fellowship Fund of the Department of Anthropology, Indiana University.

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