Basic human permanent dentition. Click to enlarge. Image credit: modified from here.
Teeth, as a part of the dentition, are a wonder of the natural world and come in a variety of forms and designs in vertebrate animals, with perhaps some of the most impressive examples include the tusks of elephants and walruses. They are also the only part of the human skeletal system that can be observed naturally and the only part that interact directly with their environment via mastication (White & Folkens 2005: 127).
Although primarily used to break down foodstuffs during mastication, teeth can also be used as tools for a variety of extramasticatory functions such as the processing of animal skins and cord production (Larsen 1997: 262). As the hardest of the biological material found in the body teeth survive particularly well in both the archaeological and fossil records, often surviving where bones do not. Teeth…
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