Mandibular tooth root size in modern Japanese, prehistoric Jomon, and Late Pleistocene Minatogawa human fossils

Gen Suwa, Hitoshi Fukase, Reiko T. Kono, Daisuke Kubo, Masaki Fujitakubo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Although dental size and morphology have contributed to population history studies in Japan, little attention has been paid to root size and dimensions. We report here computer tomography (CT)-based metrics of mandibular tooth roots in modern Japanese, Holocene Jomon, and Late Pleistocene Minatogawa human fossils (15000-20000 BP). Our results confirmed that, in terms of both mesiodistal cervical diameters and root lengths, the Jomon is overall smaller-toothed, with summed mesiodistal cervical diameters 4% smaller than in the modern Japanese. However, no significant differences were found in the M1, in both cervical diameter and root length. These results are comparable to the crown size differences reported in the two populations. There were no significant differences in root proportions (root length relative to cervical diameter) between the Jomon and the modern Japanese in each tooth element from I1 to M1, while an allometric root length reduction was observed in the M2 and M3 of the modern Japanese. This reflects distinct patterns of dental reduction in the two populations. The Late Pleistocene Minatogawa fossils were found to have larger cervical diameters and root lengths than either the modern Japanese or the Jomon, in some respects approximating the largetoothed Australian and/or earlier Late Pleistocene Homo sapiens conditions. This indicates a largely conservative dental system retained in the Minatogawa fossils, distinct from the Jomon condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-171
Number of pages13
JournalAnthropological Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Jomon
  • Late Pleistocene
  • Micro-CT
  • Minatogawa
  • Tooth root size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology


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