UK researchers found out that the size and proportion of our jaw and teeth is mainly due to the diet we follow. Led by Dr. Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel, researchers from the University of Kent deduced that man’s transition from hunter-gatherer to an agricultural-based consumer has a direct correlation to the way the skull and lower jaw are developing.
Whether or not a particular race had hunters or gatherers as forefathers, Dr. Cramon-Taubadel said the most ideal indicator is the shape of the lower jaw. Man’s chewing behavior directly influences the shape of the lower jaw. The rest of the skull, however, will not be affected by these chewing patterns.
Comparing the skull and jaw sections of 11 different races living under different climatic and geographic circumstances raised questions relating to the type of food eaten by these people as well as their eating patterns. After careful study, Dr. Cramon-Taubadel has concluded that the lower jaw and the upper palate structure were linked with the dietary patterns while the shape of the skull was due to genetic factors.
According to the researchers, hunter-gatherers have narrower but longer lower jawbones compared to gatherer-agriculturists. Dr. Cramon-Taubadel said that these mandible shapes vary due to contrasting mechanical stress when they chew their food. As for the skull, its shape is primarily influenced by neutral evolution and mutations due to the genetic drift without any external selective pressure.
Dr. Cramon-Taubadel noted that stress on the jawbones helps promote bone growth. But in today’s soft, processed foods, Dr. Cramon-Taubadel said it may not produce enough stress to facilitate mandible growth.