Anthropology 105, lecture 9: Premolars

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The premolars are the two permanent teeth just behind the canines and in front of the molars. These have an interesting relationship to primate phylogeny, as Old World monkeys and hominoids have two in each quadrant but most other primates have three. The lecture reviews primate phylogeny and then examines the evolution of these teeth in australopithecines, where the premolars became increasingly like molars over time, and the third lower premolar (the front one) changed its anatomy from a cutting tooth with honing wear and a single large cusp to a grinding tooth with two cusps. Finally, I discuss the role of premolar anatomy in showing that Neandertals were the makers of the Châtelperronian industry at Arcy-sur-Cure, France.