martes, 10 de marzo de 2015

The teeth tell a tale

Photo courtesy of Tanya Smith

By precisely gauging the age of juvenile fossils, researchers show how early human ancestors were unique

For nearly a century, the debate has raged among evolutionary biologists: When working to understand how our early human ancestors developed, should juvenile fossils be thought of as fundamentally human or apelike?

A new Harvard study suggests the answer is neither.

The study, authored by Tanya Smith, associate professor of human evolutionary biology, with colleagues from around the globe, shows that the teeth of early hominins grew unlike those of either modern humans or apes, suggesting that neither can serve as a useful proxy for estimating the age or developmental progression of juvenile fossils. The study is described in a paper published in PLoS One.

“This isn’t the first study of its kind, but it’s certainly the largest and most comprehensive,” Smith said.[...]

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