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Inter-population differences in enamel secretion rates: a comparison between modern and ancient populations

Aris, Christopher, Mahoney, Patrick, O'Hara, Mackie C, Deter, Chris (2020) Inter-population differences in enamel secretion rates: a comparison between modern and ancient populations. In: American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 171 (S69). p. 10. Wiley (doi:10.1002/ajpa.24023) (KAR id:97676)


Human enamel growth occurs as ameloblast cells secrete and mineralize protein matrix. Studies of enamel daily secretion rates (DSRs) have yielded significant insights into the evolution of permanent tooth enamel across hominin species. However, inter-population variation of modern human permanent enamel DSRs has received less attention, particularly for anterior tooth types.

This study utilizes dental histological thin sections to examine DSRs calculated for lateral and cuspal enamel regions for permanent molar, canine, and incisor crowns from British populations. These samples date from the Roman (70-400AD), Early-Anglo Saxon (500-600AD), Late Anglo- Saxon (800-1200AD), Medieval (1100-1500AD), and modern day period. A total of 338 teeth were analyzed: molar (n=89), canine (n=69), incisor (n=80). Results display consistent and significant trends towards decreasing DSRs from the ancient to modern populations. This was observed in all molar cuspal (p<0.00), lateral mid (p<0.01) and outer (p<0.00) regions, in all incisor cuspal and lateral regions (all p<0.00), and in all canine cuspal and lateral regions (all p<0.00). These data provide the first evidence for a change in the daily rate of enamel growth in human permanent dentition, in multiple permanent tooth types, over a 2000 year period. This alludes to a previously unidentified plasticity in modern human enamel growth. Ongoing research will investigate whether similar variation has occurred in other enamel variables over this period of time in these populations.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Speech)
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/ajpa.24023
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Patrick Mahoney
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2022 17:34 UTC
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2022 13:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Aris, Christopher.

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Mahoney, Patrick.

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O'Hara, Mackie C.

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Deter, Chris.

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