Inter- and intrapopulation variability of dental tissue proportions of European and African modern human populations’ permanent canines

Numerous studies have shown that human dentition traits vary both between and within populations. However, there is still little knowledge about how dental tissue proportions differ between modern human groups. In this study, two samples of European and African individuals were compared to assess the possible differences and similarities present in the dental tissue dimensions of their permanent canines. For this purpose, the volumes and surface areas of the coronal dentine and pulp complex and the enamel cap of 127 canines were measured by microcomputed tomography. The results show the existence of interpopulation variability in the dental tissue pattern of both samples, which is mainly due to the presence of a larger enamel component in the African population, while dentine seems to play a less critical role in the differences described between both dental samples. We also observed a similar pattern of sexual dimorphism in the dental tissue proportions of European and African canines, but in this case, the intrapopulation variability was mainly due to the presence of a greater dentine component in males. Therefore, because the dimensions of dental tissues vary at both inter- and intrapopulation levels in modern human groups, our results highlight the importance of selecting comparative samples that are geographically mixed and sex-balanced for future paleoanthropological investigations on dental tissue patterns of extinct and extant species to avoid overestimating or underestimating any possible similarities or differences.