Descriptions of the dental remains of Homo floresiensis
Dental remains of Homo floresiensis excavated during 2002–2004 at Liang Bua, Flores, Indonesia, consist of one partial maxillary dentition, two nearly complete mandibular dentitions, and four isolated teeth. We present here morphological descriptions of all these specimens and report aspects of their dentition, occlusion, and oral health condition. This dental assemblage represents probably five but possibly four or six individuals. These different individuals share similar dental characteristics, supporting the view that the Liang Bua H. floresiensis assemblage represents a single population. We also reassess the previous claims for primitive and modern aspects of the H. floresiensis teeth. The previous studies reached conflicting conclusions: some researchers claim that these teeth are fully modern, whereas others highlight premolar and other morphologies that suggest their direct evolutionary link with the African earliest form of Homo or Australopithecus rather than with H. erectus. Neither of these views are supported. The H. floresiensis teeth exhibit a mosaic of primitive, derived, and unique characters, with the reported primitive aspects broadly comparable to the morphologies observed in H. erectus sensu lato. Although a more comprehensive comparative analysis is needed to fully illustrate dental morphological affinities of this dwarfed hominin species, we find no grounds for the hypothesis that H. floresiensis originated from the small-bodied, primitive hominins such as H. habilis sensu lato.