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Title: Teeth, prenatal growth rates, and the evolution of human-like pregnancy in later Homo
Authors: Monson, Tesla A.
Weitz, Andrew P.
Brasil, Marianne F.
Hlusko, Leslea J.
Keywords: Maternal energetics;Dentition;Hominid fossil record;Prenatal growth;Endocranial volume
Issue Date: Oct-2022
Publisher: National Academy of Science
Citation: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022, 119(41), e2200689119
Abstract: Evidence of how gestational parameters evolved is essential to understanding this fundamental stage of human life. Until now, these data seemed elusive given the skeletal bias of the fossil record. We demonstrate that dentition provides a window into the life of neonates. Teeth begin to form in utero and are intimately associated with gestational development. We measured the molar dentition for 608 catarrhine primates and collected data on prenatal growth rate (PGR) and endocranial volume (ECV) for 19 primate genera from the literature. We found that PGR and ECV are highly correlated (R2 = 0.93, P < 0.001). Additionally, we demonstrated that molar proportions are significantly correlated with PGR (P = 0.004) and log-transformed ECV (P = 0.001). From these correlations, we developed two methods for reconstructing PGR in the fossil record, one using ECV and one using molar proportions. Dental proportions reconstruct hominid ECV (R2 = 0.81, P < 0.001), a result that can be extrapolated to PGR. As teeth dominate fossil assemblages, our findings greatly expand our ability to investigate life history in the fossil record. Fossil ECVs and dental measurements from 13 hominid species both support significantly increasing PGR throughout the terminal Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene, reflecting known evolutionary changes. Together with pelvic and endocranial morphology, reconstructed PGRs indicate the need for increasing maternal energetics during pregnancy over the last 6 million years, reaching a human-like PGR (i.e., more similar to humans than to other extant apes) and ECV in later Homo less than 1 million years ago.
ISSN: 1091-6490
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2200689119
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Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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