Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (02): 292-306.doi: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2019.0044

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Application of dental microwear in diets reconstruction

HUA Licheng1,2(), Peter S UNGAR2()   

  1. 1. Faculty of Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics, Ningbo University, Ningbo, Zhejiang 315211
    2. Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 72701, USA
  • Received:2017-12-13 Revised:2019-07-11 Online:2021-04-15 Published:2021-04-13
  • Contact: Peter S UNGAR;
  • Supported by:
    K.C. Wong Magna Fund through Ningbo University


Dental microwear analysis is the study of microscopic scratches and pits that form on teeth as the result of their use. The pattern of microwear on a tooth is distinctive and varies with foods eaten, so can be used as a proxy for diet. Dental microwear therefore has the potential to provide important insights into paleoecology and evolution of extinct forms. This paper introduces the application of dental microwear analysis as a simple and efficient method of diet reconstruction for the fields of bioarchaeology and paleontology. The principal approaches used to relate pattern of microwear to diet will be presented. Further, current understandings of the etiology of dental microwear will be summarized. In addition, methods of texture analysis applied to dental microwear surfaces will be reviewed. Finally, possible directions for future research on dental microwear will be proposed.

Key words: Tooth, Microwear, Surface texture, Diet, Methods

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