Fellows' Presentation

Tracking the Evolution of Human Life History with Rhythmic Tooth Growth

Photo by Tony RinaldoPhoto by Tony Rinaldo

Part of the 2013–2014 Fellows Presentation Series

Tanya M. Smith’s project investigates how we can use teeth to understand the evolution of human life history, including how growth and reproduction have changed from our apelike ancestral pattern. She is examining tooth development and life history in a broad primate sample, including living wild chimpanzees and a diverse sample of fossil hominin children. This will allow identification of the origins of a fundamental human adaptation: the costly yet advantageous shift from a “live fast and die young” strategy to the “live slow and grow old” strategy that has helped to make us one of the most successful mammals on the planet.