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Environment, Tooth Form, And Size In The Pleistocene

C. Brace
Published 1967 · Geology, Medicine

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Operating on the assumption that changes in selective forces will produce changes in organisms previously in a state of adaptive equilibrium, it should be possible to reverse the process and, by an examination of structural modifications that have occurred through time, make inferences concerning the nature of alterations in the forces of selection. An examination of the available evidence allows one to generalize concerning the morphological changes that have taken place in the hominid line during the Pleistocene. If the available hominid skeletal material is treated as belonging to a single evolutionary line-an assumption that is far from being universally accepted12"4-the most distinct changes that have occurred are largely limited to the cranium. Postcranial changes are to be observed, not the least of which is a major increase in gross bodily bulk between the early and the late Australopithecines but, other than noting that this has allometric implications when specific features are considered, it is possible to relegate such matters to a status of secondary importance and to defer their treatment until the cranial aspects have been examined. Restricting our attention to the skull, variations that can be readily discerned from the preserved hard parts allow us to focus attention on changes that have taken place in two major organs. Changes in brain size and their implications are relatively obvious and call for little further comment, whereas
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