Alexandria Peterson

Year: Senior

Major(s):  Anthropology, Classical Civilization

Mentor: Krueger, Kristin

Department: Anthropology

Project Title: Assessing the classification and behavior of Meganthropus through non-metric and microwear texture analyses

Project Abstract: Meganthropus is a species classification that is no longer used by scholars. Current studies have classified specimens traditionally called Meganthropus as a variation of Homo erectus, but there is still much debate. The goals of this project are to learn and use techniques in dental anthropology to determine to what taxonomic classification the Meganthropus dental specimens belong and to reconstruct their behavior through dental microwear texture analysis. To determine the classification, the physical traits of the Meganthropus dental sample, which consists of nine isolated anterior teeth, will be cataloged and compared to the traits of other hominins, specifically using the ASUDAS (Arizona State University Dental Anthropology System) reference casts for modern humans. Reconstructing behavior will be conducted using dental microwear texture analysis, a repeatable and objective technique that examines the three-dimensional features left on dental enamel from dietary and non-dietary use (e.g. using the anterior teeth as a tool). This project not only seeks to contribute data to the study of human origins, but also to teach valuable techniques in dental anthropology needed for future work in the field.