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Human evolution put brakes on tooth growth

Scientists have looked our ancestors in the mouth and extracted a new insight about human evolution. Slowed-down tooth growth, a marker of extended childhood development in humans, emerged by only around 100,000 years ago, the investigators have found.

Even fossil species treated as direct or close ancestors of Homo sapiens, such as Homo erectus and Homo ergaster, exhibited relatively rapid tooth growth, more like that of apes than of people, report anatomist Christopher Dean of University College London and his colleagues. Overall, people take 18 to 20 years to reach full growth, while chimpanzees and gorillas take 11 to 12 years.

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