Dental dimorphism is one of the primary means by which the mating systems of extinct hominins are studied. Its use has been particularly significant for describing the behaviors of Australopithecus and early Homo, and consequently the factors involved in the evolution of our own species. Analysis however, has tended to produce ambiguous and contrasting results, with no firm agreement as to what mating strategies these genera practiced. Interpretation is confounded by numerous problems such as a generally poor understanding of how dental dimorphism develops in primates, and what factors influence its expression. It is also not well known how these factors interact with different aspects of the dentition and to what relative extent these aspects are diagnostic of mating behavior. The failure in many cases to firmly establish the sex of fossil specimens has likewise hampered the interpretations of sexual dimorphism and by extension, mating behavior. Lastly, the ability to correlate dental dimorphism with mating systems, even in living primates, has met with only moderate success. For these reasons it is argued that dental dimorphism be used only to support the most general assertions about hominin social behavior.
Werner, Joseph J.
"Mating Behavior in Australopithecus and Early Homo: A Review of The Diagnostic Potential of Dental Dimorphism.,"
Totem: The University of Western Ontario Journal of Anthropology: Vol. 22
, Article 3.
Available at: http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/totem/vol22/iss1/3
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