Middle Stone Age human teeth from Magubike rockshelter, Iringa Region, Tanzania

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Willoughby, Pamela R.; Compton, Tim; Bello, Silvia M.; Bushozi, Pastory M.; Skinner, Anne R.; Stringer, Chris B.
Year of Publication: 2018
Volume: 13
Issue: 7
Pagination: e0200530 -
Date Published: 07/2018
Publication Language: eng

In 2006, six isolated hominin teeth were excavated from Middle Stone Age (MSA) deposits at the Magubike rockshelter in southern Tanzania. They comprise two central incisors, one lateral incisor, one canine, one third premolar, and one fourth premolar. All are fully developed and come from the maxilla. None of the teeth are duplicated, so they may represent a single individual. While there is some evidence of post-depositional alteration, the morphology of these teeth clearly shares features with anatomically modern Homo sapiens. Both metric and non-metric traits are compared to those from other African and non-African dental remains. The degree of biological relatedness between eastern and southern African Stone Age hunter-gatherers has long been a subject of interest, and several characteristics of the Magubike teeth resemble those of the San of southern Africa. Another notable feature is that the three incisors are marked on the labial crown by scratches that are much coarser than microwear striations. These non-masticatory scratches on the Magubike teeth suggest that the use of the front teeth as tools included regularly repeated activities undertaken throughout the life of the individual. The exact age of these teeth is not clear as ESR and radiocarbon dates on associated snail shells give varying results, but a conservative estimate of their minimum age is 45,000 years.