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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)
 
 
 
 
 

Relationship between the mandibular condyle and the occlusal plane during hominid evolution: some of its effects on jaw mechanics.

A selection of mandibles from recent higher primates, fossil hominids, and hominoids has been studied from photographs of skulls, reproductions, and material published by others, all viewed in the sagittal plane. Tracings of each mandible were constructed so that the dentitions were all scaled to the same length (d) and superimposed. The (scaled) positions of the articular surfaces of the condyles (J = joint point) were compared. The height of each J point above the scaled dentition (h = effective condyle height) and its distance behind the dentition (r = effective ramus width) were compared. With very few exceptions d greater than r greater than d/2. There was a poor correlation between r and the amount of prognathism. The position of the J point with respect to the occlusal plane was different for different groups within the material analysed and could prove to be a useful tool to help improve the reconstruction of fragmented fossil material. Some examples are given. A. afarensis and Homo habilis shared a low and anterior J point (r approximately d/2). The later australopithecines evolved a high and anterior J point, whereas that of Homo erectus was raised and displaced posteriorly (r approximately 3d/4). The value of r was increased to d in the Neanderthals, and recent man has moved the J point forward again. The effect of the position of the J point, the slope of the preglenoid plane, and the curve of Spee on the relationship between upper and lower postcanines when the jaw is opened and then closed to process food have been analysed. The results show that the position of the J point affects the way in which the mandible moves, and this may be related to changes in diet during evolution.[1]

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