Evidence of amelogenesis imperfecta in an early African Homo erectus

Uri Zilberman, Patricia Smith, Marcello Piperno, Silvana Condemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The teeth of the Homo erectus child (Garba IV) recovered from Melka Kunture Ethiopia and dated to 1.5 Ma are characterized by generalized enamel dysplasia, reduced enamel radio-opacity, and severe attrition. This combination of features is found in a large group of hereditary, generalized enamel dysplasias known as amelogenesis imperfecta (AI). SEM studies carried out on epoxy replicas of teeth from the Garba IV child, confirmed that the defects noted were developmental and not due to diagenesis. The enamel prism arrangement is abnormal and there are deep vertical furrows lacking enamel on both buccal and lingual surfaces of all molars. The lesions differ from those characteristic of linear enamel hypoplasia that form discrete horizontal lesions or pits within otherwise normal enamel. We propose that the Garba IV child is the earliest example of AI and provides a link between palaeoanthropology and molecular biology in investigations of the evolutionary history of genetic disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-653
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Amelogenesis imperfecta
  • Enamel dysplasia
  • Garba IV
  • Homo erectus
  • Melka Kunture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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