Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Basque Dental Morphology in Dendrograms

There's an interesting chapter on tooth morphology from a book written in 2013 called "Anthropological Perspectives on Tooth Morphology: Genetics, Evolution, Variation" edited by Scott and Irish (symbol shot!).

Chapter 13 is based off a research paper by Scott, Anta, Schomberg and de la Rua looking at historic and modern Basque dental classification compared against all others, particularly Eurodonts.

Not surprisingly, the modern Basques are closer to Santa Marians (who are Basques from a Cathedral crypt).  There is no feature that distinguishes Basques, however Basques do appear to have higher diversity in features than any of their neighbors (mental note).  You can see below the basic breakout:

Exploding out the Eurodonts is surprising and unsurprising.  Atlanteans cluster together, and oddly enough with a poorly-defined Levant (and it appears possibly with some groups in India).  North Africans share a strange affinity to some North Sea Euros.  Finland and Early South Asians form outgroups.

It would be nice to have bigger data and then look at other dietary 'adaptations' to agriculture by population: glucose, lactose, alcohol, metabolism, food processing, etc.  It would also be interesting to see a dendrogram of various Beaker groups with modern European groups such as the Basques, Amoricans and the English. 

What we have previously is a comparison of Swiss Bell Beaker/Late Neolithic groups with those from several places in Europe, notably the Carpathian sphere and Northern Iberian Chalcolithic.  (Desideri and Besse, 2010)  To simplify, here is their conclusion on the 'foreigners' in Switzerland at that time:
"So, we have seen that the Swiss sites do not mix with the eastern domain, but fit well with the southern domain. The axis of external influences is clearly southern, whether this occurred during the Final Neolithic or the Bell Beaker in western Switzerland. "
Specifically, this similarity of influences was more akin to the sphere of the Northwestern Iberian Chalcolithic.  The amateur reading of this is that the whole point of this study punched a hole in the Begleitkeramik justification for a Westward movement of Beaker immigrants.  In other words, people who used Begleitkeramik in this realm, apparently did not have ancestry in the Carpathian or Bohemian sphere, the necessary point of the common ware vs. funerary ware argument.

In more other words, the Western Swiss Beakers did have immigrant ancestry, just in the wrong direction.  This is not to eliminate the probability that people ancestral to Beakers had ultimate ancestry in the East at some point.  It just won't be a one paragraph story. 


Anthropological Perspectives on Tooth Morphology: Genetics, Evolution, Variation
G. Richard Scott, Joel D. Irish Cambridge University Press, 2013 [here]

>>Chapter 13:  Richard Scott , Alberto Anta, Roman Schomberg , and Concepcion de la Rúa
Basque dental morphology and the “Eurodont” dental pattern [here also in PDF form]


  1. In my opinion, this is:-

    Berbers --> Sardinians --> Basques/N.Spanish
    Berbers --> Sardinians --> S.French/N.Italians --> Swiss/S.Germans [eg Otzi, Stuttgart]

    [see also Razib's post from today: ]

    1. Thanks, I just left a comment on Razib's blog.

      This story could get interesting, because the Impresso-Cardial folk also populated North Africa in the coasts and rivers as far as Northern Sudan, the Levantine coast and apparently the North Pontic coast. The paper he lists shows a common origin between them and Danubian LBK originating in Thessaly, but both groups would eventually have a heritage in the Northern Levant anyway, so there is no genetic requirement for a geographical origin for Cardial in Thessaly. Cardial could have spread directly from Byblos, more likely in my opinion. The El Torcs man, I think, partly shows a more complex and southerly route than currently believed.

  2. The dendrograms on the teeth seem so random it is hard to assign them any weight in explaining anything.

    1. The larger groups make sense down the basic branches of the Eurodonts.

      However, from there things get a little weird. It would help if they were broken down further into smaller groups or smaller regions so it made more sense. The levant and india categories leave too much to the imagination since they are diverse areas.

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  4. Excellent post! Thank you so much for all this information! Also, I would like to add some extra data, the maxillary first dental morphology is the largest of all.

  5. I just had to thank you for your post on dental morphology. Am a dentist, and should know this by hard, but just can't. I have always dreaded studying it from textbooks.