We did not evolve small teeth because of brain development or primitive food-cutting tools

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A 3D reconstruction of a modern human cranium showing the teeth and endocranial cast. Credit: George Washington University

The human brain and teeth have not evolved together in humans, unlike what past studies had suggested.

Compared with other hominids, one of modern humans’ most distinctive feature is that they have large brains and small posterior teeth…Indeed, scientists believed that a bigger brain was linked to more complex behavior, such as the creation of stone tools to cut food, which reduced the need for big teeth and allowed for dental reduction.

However, this theory has recently been challenged by studies showing that tool use predated big brains. Australopithecus might already have used primitive stone tools some 3.3 million years ago.

A multitude of unrelated behavioral and ecological factors might have influenced the evolution of the teeth and the brain in the different hominid lineages.

“As for dental evolution, the rate is so constant it will be hard to pinpoint a single factor. We think it might be a gradual phenomenon that is related to the progressive gracilization of the human face”, concluded [Aida Gómez-Robles, from George Washington University].

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Myth buster: Our big brains and small teeth did not evolve at the same time