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Teeth Science

Ancient Teeth

Teeth can tell us many things about a person’s life — whether they eat healthy foods, how much coffee or tea they consume, or if they smoke, for example. They can even give clues about potential health issues like diabetes or stroke and heart attack risk. But teeth also contain a wealth of information for researchers who study ancient cultures. In fact, mummy teeth are the latest source of important data for a group of investigators analyzing climate data in Egypt.

A chemical analysis of teeth enamel from Egyptian mummies reveals the Nile Valley grew increasingly dry from 5,500 to 1,500 B.C., the period including the growth and flourishing of ancient Egyptian civilization.

The mummy’s teeth recorded the ratio of two oxygen isotopes in their diet and their drinking water. Shifts in the ratio of the isotopes indicated changing precipitation patterns in the region, including, as in this case, drought conditions.

Beaks Instead of Teeth? Say what???

Humans could one day evolve beaks, a biologist has suggested.

Dr. Gareth Fraser of Sheffield University said that humans could someday see their teeth fuse together to form a bill.

A beak would be “more robust and practical” than teeth, and less susceptible to wear and tear.

Said Dr. Fraser: “It could be possible for humans to evolve to grow beaks, like pufferfish.”

Yikes!!!! This is one type of evolution we’re happy we won’t live to see.

The biologist has also investigated why humans only get two sets of teeth in a lifetime, while other animals, such as sharks, grow multiple new sets.

Having identified the cells responsible for tooth growth in other animals, he believes scientists could eventually stimulate similar cells in humans to create more sets of teeth.

“With our extended lives and modern diets, the limited supply of human teeth is really no longer fit for purpose.

“Our research is focused on looking for ways in which we can replicate the way that fish create an endless supply of teeth and bring this capability to humans.”

But he added that that was unlikely to happen for at least another 50 years.

For all the parents out there who have had to deal with teething children, I’m not sure that multiple new sets of teeth is all that desirable. Though it would likely mean a windfall for the makers of pain medications!

– Dr. Shannon Norman-Kotre, Ann Arbor Dentist


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