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Dental cementum virtual histology of Neanderthal teeth from Krapina (Croatia, 130–120 kyr): an informed estimate of age, sex and adult stressors

Cerrito, Paola, Nava, Alessia, Radovčić, Davorka, Borić, Dušan, Cerrito, Leonardo, Basdeo, Tricia, Ruggiero, Guido, Frayer, David W., Kao, Alexander P., Bondioli, Luca, and others. (2022) Dental cementum virtual histology of Neanderthal teeth from Krapina (Croatia, 130–120 kyr): an informed estimate of age, sex and adult stressors. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 19 (187). Article Number 20210820. ISSN 1742-5689. (doi:10.1098/rsif.2021.0820) (KAR id:95858)

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The evolution of modern human reproductive scheduling is an aspect of our life history that remains vastly uncomprehended. The present work aims to address this gap by validating a non-destructive cutting-edge methodology to infer adult life-history events on modern teeth with known life history and then applying it to fossil specimens. We use phase-contrast synchrotron X-ray microtomography to visualize the dental cementum of 21 specimens: nine contemporary humans; 10 Neanderthals from Krapina (Croatia, 130–120 kyr); one Neolithic Homo sapiens from Ajmana (Serbia); and one Mesolithic H. sapiens from Vlasac (Serbia). We were able to correctly detect and time (root mean square error = 2.1 years; R2 = 0.98) all reproductive (menarche, parturition, menopause) and other physiologically impactful events in the modern sample. Nonetheless, we could not distinguish between the causes of the events detected. For the fossil specimens, we estimated age at death and age at occurrence of biologically significant events. Finally, we performed an exploratory analysis regarding possible sexual dimorphism in dental cementum microstructure, which allowed us to correctly infer the sex of the Neolithic specimen, for which the true value was known via DNA analysis.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1098/rsif.2021.0820
Projects: WEAN-IT
Uncontrolled keywords: Fossil hominins, Life-history evolution, Neanderthals, Synchrotron X-ray microtomography, Virtual histology, dental cementum
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: European Union (
Depositing User: Alessia Nava
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2022 13:48 UTC
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2023 14:26 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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