Growth of Enamel and Dentine

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Human Uniqueness Compared to "Great Apes": 
No Difference
Human Universality: 
Individual Universal (All Individuals Everywhere)
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Ameloblasts and odontoblasts each secrete an organic matrix that mineralizes to become mature enamel or dentine respectively. Growth of enamel and dentine is appositional and not interstitial as, for example, is cartilage growth. Enamel and dentine never remodel during life and a permanent record of their growth remains, literally embodied within the microstructure of a tooth. A circadian rhythm influences ameloblast and odontoblast matrix secretion. Daly increments of growth (enamel cross striations) are visible in histological preparations of teeth along the lengths of enamel prisms and in dentine (von Ebners lines) crossing the dentine tubules at right angles. In both thin-enamelled African great apes and thick-enamelled modern human teeth, rates of enamel secretion vary between ~2.5 to 6.0 micrometers per day. However, rates of secretion stay slower for longer in inner forming human enamel, which contributes to the greater overall time it takes to form tooth crowns. There is little good evidence for differences in rates of dentine formation between great apes and humans in either crowns or roots but tooth shape is largely defined by differing dentine formation rates, which must, therefore, exist. Coarser increments of enamel and dentine growth also exist. Striae of Retzius in enamel and Andresen lines in dentine are spaced several days apart. Perikymata on the enamel surface (alternating horizontal troughs and ridges) are associated with striae of Retzius. The modal periodicity of these long-period growth increments is 8 days in humans and 7 days in Pan but is variable in both. The rate at which tooth crowns and roots grow, or extend, in length is determined by rates of odontoblast and ameloblast differentiation in the developing tooth germ. Primates, carnivora, proboscidea, rhinoceros, and hippos all have enamel patterns that consist of incomplete cylindrical surfaces that are arranged in horizontal rows, while most perissodactyla and artiodactyla have enamel formed in a pattern of incomplete cylindrical surfaces that are arranged in vertical rows (Hillson, 2005). Extension rates are faster in taller crowned or longer rooted teeth that form in a shorter time (e.g. Gorilla versus Pan and Homo).

Occurrence in Other Animals: 

Primates, carnivora, proboscidea, rhinoceros, and hippos all have enamel patterns that consist of incomplete cylindrical surfaces that are arranged in horizontal rows.

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  1. Crown tissue proportions and enamel thickness distribution in early Pleistocene Homo antecessor maxillary premolars (Atapuerca, Spain), Martín-Francés, Laura, Martinón-Torres María, de Pinillos Marina Martínez, Xing Song, Soligo Christophe, García-Campos Cecilia, Modesto-Mata Mario, and de Castro José María Ber , American Journal of Biological AnthropologyAmerican Journal of Biological AnthropologyAm J Biol Anthropol, 2023/02/01, Volume 180, Issue 2, p.370 - 385, (2023)
  2. A probable genetic origin for pitting enamel hypoplasia on the molars of Paranthropus robustus, Towle, Ian, and Irish Joel D. , Journal of Human Evolution, 2019/04/01/, Volume 129, p.54 - 61, (2019)
  3. The first Neanderthal specimen from Serbia: Maxillary first molar from the Late Pleistocene of Pešturina Cave, Radović, Predrag, Lindal Joshua, Mihailović Dušan, and Roksandic Mirjana , Journal of Human Evolution, 2019/06/01/, Volume 131, p.139 - 151, (2019)
  4. Teeth, Hillson, S. , p.388, (2005)
  5. Growth processes in teeth distinguish modern humans from Homo erectus and earlier hominins., Dean, C, Leakey M G., Reid D, Schrenk F, Schwartz G T., Stringer C, and Walker A , Nature, 2001 Dec 6, Volume 414, Issue 6864, p.628-31, (2001)