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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

More than fifty years ago researchers recognised that microscopic patterns of wear on tooth enamel surfaces record information about ingestive behaviours and diets. Various methods of analysis have since been developed and applied to detect subtle dietary differences amongst extant and extinct species, and to differentiate short-term and seasonal variations in diet. This chapter provides a historical overview of methods of dental microwear analysis and their applications to non-human primates and fossil hominins. We consider in detail microwear texture analysis, wherein scanning confocal profilometry and scale-sensitive fractal analysis are used as tools for 3D characterization of microwear features. Studies employing this technique on a broad range of taxa, including hominins, attest to its efficacy, and provide insights into diets of extinct forms. We also for the first time compare microwear textures of Plio-Pleistocene species with those of Neanderthals to consider variation in diet between earlier and more recent fossil hominins.

Keywords: Microwear texture analysis, Diet reconstruction, Dental microwear

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