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September 01, 2007 (Vol. 27, No. 15)

Dental Microwear

  • Interesting subject related to biology
  • Could do more botanical or molecular biological coverage
The opening picture—a primate chewing on a stick—on this unusual site from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas gives a good idea of the content. Amazingly, as noted at the site, dental microwear—the study of microscopic scratches and pits on the surface of teeth as a result of use—allows researchers to reconstruct diets of human ancestors and fossil primates. This is a little weird but fascinating at the same time. Perusing Dental Microwear, one discovers numerous electron micrographs of various teeth. The explanations tell what materials being consumed would lead to the marks observed. Heavily pitted surfaces, for example, suggest the consumption of hard food items like nuts, whereas light scratches suggest softer dietary items such as leaves. The site has a data archive that requires approval to access. Other features include a reference section, downloadable software (Toothfrax), and a scientific description of texture analysis.
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