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This book contains papers arising from a symposium held during a combined meeting of The International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), The Australian Anthropological Society (AAS) and The Association of Social Anthropologists of Aotearoa New Zealand at the University of Western Australia from July 5-8th, 2011. It follows on from a recently published Special Issue Supplement of Archives of Oral Biology, Volume 54, December 2009 that contains papers from an International Workshop on Oral Growth and Development held in Liverpool in 2007 and edited by Professor Alan Brook. Together, these two publications provide a comprehensive overview of state-of-the-art approaches to study dental development and variation, and open up opportunities for future collaborative research initiatives, a key aim of the International Collaborating Network in Oro-facial Genetics and Development that was founded in Liverpool in 2007.
The aim of the symposium held at The University of Western Australia in 2011 was to emphasise some of the powerful new strategies offered by the science of dental anthropology to elucidate the historical lineage of human groups and also to reconstruct environmental factors that have acted on the teeth by analysing dental morphological features. In recent years, migration, as well as increases and decreases in the size of different human populations, have been evident as a result of globalisation. Dental features are also changing associated with changes in nutritional status, different economic or social circumstances, and intermarriage between peoples. Dental anthropological studies have explored these changes with the use of advanced techniques and refined methodologies. New paradigms are also evolving in the field of dental anthropology.
A study of non-metric dental traits in people in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Highlands was carried out and the results were compared with other Asian and Pacific peoples. Dental impressions were obtained of young adults from Kasi village, Wabag, Enga Province, PNG. Frequencies of 13 dental traits were recorded using the Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System. Conspicuous characteristics in PNG Highlanders included: low frequencies of shoveling and double-shoveling of maxillary incisors, 6th cusp in mandibular first molar and Carabelli's trait, but in contrast high frequencies of hypocone reduction in maxillary second molars, 5th cusp in maxillary first molars and 4-cusped mandibular second molars. A principal coordinate plot including 39 Asian and Pacific populations for scores of these 13 traits, based on Smith's MMDs and standard deviations, showed that the PNG Highlanders belonged to the Sunda-Pacific group, but occupied an extreme position on the first axis. Many of dental characteristics of Wabag were related to morphological reduction of the molar dental crowns, especially their distal components. This suggests that their dental morphologies have changed from the original Australian type of dental characteristics to a peculiar type of morphology associated with nutritional conditions and complex genetic factors.
Recent discoveries of archaeological site in highland Papua New Guinea (PNG) demonstrate that this area was colonized by humans almost 49,000 years ago (Gasden, 2010; Summerhays, 2010).
In recent years, migration, as well as increases and decreases in the size of different human populations, have been evident as a result of globalisation. Dental features are also changing associated with changes in nutritional status, different economic or social circumstances, and intermarriage between peoples. Dental anthropological studies have explored these changes with the use of advanced techniques and refined methodologies. New paradigms are also evolving in the field of dental anthropology.