Dental dimensions of three samples of prehistoric Tennessee Indians spanning almost 8,000 years were analyzed in order to isolate long-term size trends in the dentition of a localized series of aboriginal North Americans. Results indicate that the anterior dentition (incisors and canines) underwent a constant, gradual reduction, while the posterior dentition (molars and premolars) remained virtually the same size or even increased slightly for 7,000 years and then were reduced significantly with the shift to a predominantly food producing economy. The most likely explanation for these trends lies in changing patterns of natural selection, resulting from variations in attritional stress induced by change in subsistence and food preparation.
Hinton, Robert J.; Smith, Maria Ostendorf; and Smith, Fred H.
"Tooth Size Changes in Prehistoric Tennessee Indians,"
2, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol/vol52/iss2/8