Small tooth sizes in a nineteenth century South Carolina plantation slave series

Edward Harris, Ted A. Rathbun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sub‐Saharan African (and derived) populations typically exhibit larger mean tooth crown diameters than whites in spite of considerable population variability. We report on a 19th century series of American black slaves from a single cemetery near Charleston, South Carolina, that possessed notably smaller crown sizes. Analysis identifies a characteristic set of differences compared to caucasians, including retention of large maxillary lateral incisors and disproportinately large premolars and molars. Regression of principal components scores (derived from the mesiodistal diameters) on the sum of all diameters (used here as a measure of overall tooth mass) confirms a basic ethnic difference between black and white odontometrics: significantly more of the tooth mass is apportioned to the cheek teeth (premolars, molars) in blacks than whites. The difference (expressed as residuals from linear regression on tooth mass) holds for the several groups assessed here despite considerable intergroup variability in tooth sizes. Potential explanations for the notably small diameters of this plantation series are speculative, but may involve kin‐based divergences and/or reflect the natural intergroup differences extant in the African slave sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-420
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume78
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

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Slaves
slave
Tooth
nineteenth century
Bicuspid
regression
cemetery
Caucasian
divergence
Cemeteries
Tooth Crown
Cheek
Incisor
Crowns
Population
Linear Models
Group

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology

Cite this

Small tooth sizes in a nineteenth century South Carolina plantation slave series. / Harris, Edward; Rathbun, Ted A.

In: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 78, No. 3, 01.01.1989, p. 411-420.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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