Dental Microwear of Living Hadza Foragers
Studies of dental microwear of bioarchaeological assemblages and extant mammals from museum collections show that surface texture can provide a valuable proxy for reconstructing diets of past peoples and extinct species. However, no study to date has focused on occlusal surface microwear textures of living hunter-gatherers. Here we present the first such study of the Hadza foragers of Tanzania. Methods We took high-resolution dental impressions of occlusal surfaces for a total of 43 molds representing 25 men and women, 1?3 samples each, at different times during the rainy and dry seasons. Dental replicas were prepared and scanned by confocal profilometry and standard microwear texture parameters were calculated. Central tendencies and dispersions of variable scores were compared by season and by sex. Results We found no differences between sexes or seasons in texture attribute central tendency, but some for dispersion. Females had notably low microwear texture dispersion in the dry season while males had higher dispersion in some attributes, particularly in the dry season. These differences seem to be driven primarily by low variance among females in the dry season. Conclusions This study demonstrates microwear texture data can be generated for living foragers. Given caveats of small samples available and consideration of foraging groups in transition, this study hints at variation in microwear texture dispersion between sexes and seasons for the Hadza, suggesting that such analyses might be of value for assessing hunter-gatherer diet.