Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 57, Issue 7, pp 790–794 | Cite as

Periodicity of Retzius lines in fossil Pongo from South China

Open Access
Article Geology


Periodicity of Retzius lines is a key factor in dental development. In this study, we examined the periodicity of Retzius lines in fossil Pongo from South China using polarized light microscope observation of dental ground sections. The periodicities all of the 15 teeth were 9 d. Comparisons of periodicity were made with extant primates, fossil apes and hominins. Periodicity of fossil Pongo from South China was relatively long but fell within the variation of extant Pongo, Gorilla and modern human, and longer than periodicity of Pan and other extant primates. Fossil Pongo from South China was similar to Lufengpithecus and Sivapithecus, shorter than Gigantopithecus and longer than European and African fossil apes and most early hominins in periodicity. Generally, the periodicities of Asian large-body fossil apes were longer than the periodicities of European and African large-body fossil apes in Miocene. Difference among species and trend of evolution in periodicity were analyzed and discussed. We found that periodicity might gradually increase from Proconsul in early Miocene to several fossil apes in Miocene and then Gigantopithecus in Pleistocene. In addition, this study made correlate analysis between periodicity and body mass respectively in males and females of six extant apes and five fossil apes, and found that periodicity positively correlated with body mass.


Pongo South China periodicity of Retzius lines extant apes fossil apes 


  1. 1.
    Smith T M. Incremental development of primate dental enamel. Dissertation for the Doctoral Degree. New York: Stony Brook University, 2004Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Smith T M, Martin L B, Leakey M G. Enamel thickness, microstrucutre and development in Afropithecus turkanensis. J Hum Evol, 2003, 44: 286–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bromage T G, Dean M C. Re-evaluation of the age at death of immature fossil hominids. Nature, 1985, 317: 525–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Zhao L X, Lu Q W, Xu Q H. Enamel microstructure of Lufengpithecus lufengensis. Acta Anthrop Sin, 2000, 19(Suppl): 77–108Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Zhao L X, Zheng L, Gao F, et al. Preliminary study on enamel microstructure of Yuanmou Miocene hominoids of China. Sci China Ser D-Earth Sci, 2002, 32: 921–927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Zhao L X. Comprehensive dental study on Gigangpithecus blacki (in Chinese). Dissertation for the Doctoral Degree. Beijing: Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2006Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Zhou G X. The distribution and evolution of Pongo in South China (in Chinese). Mem Beijing Nat Hist Mus, 2002, 60: 71–87Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Wang C B, Zhao L X, Jin C Z, et al. A comparative study on the tooth crown size of Pleistocene fossil orangutan from South China and its taxonomic implication (in Chinese). Acta Anthropol Sin, 2009, 28: 192–200Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Gu Y M, Huang W B, Song F Y, et al. The study of some fossil Orang-Utan teeth from Guangdong and Guangxi. Acta Anthropol Sin, 1987, 6: 272–283Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Zhao L X, Wang C B, Jin C Z, et al. Fossil Orangutan-like hominoid teeth from Late Pleistocene human site of Mulanshan cave in Chongzuo of Guangxi and implications on taxonomy and evolution of orangutan. Chin Sci Bull, 2009, 54: 3924–3930CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Han D F. Mammalian fossils from Tahsin County, Guangxi (in Chinese). Vert Palas, 1982, 20: 59–64Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Schwartz G T, Reid D J, Dean C. Developmental aspects of sexual dimorphism in hominoid canines. Int J Primatol, 2001, 22: 837–860CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Reid D J, Dean M C. Variation in modern human enamel formation times. J Hum Evol, 2006, 50: 329–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Reid D J, Schwartz G T, Dean C, et al. A histological reconstruction of dental development in the common chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes. J Hum Evol, 1998, 35: 427–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Dirks W, Bowman J E. Life history theory and dental development in four species of catarrhine primates. J Hum Evol, 2007, 53: 309–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Smith T M. Experimental determination of the periodicity of incremental features in enamel. J Anat, 2006, 208: 99–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Schwartz G T, Godfrey L R, Mahoney P. Inferring primate growth, development and life history from dental microstructure: The case of the extinct Malagasy lemur, Megaladapis. In: Bailey S E, Hublin J J, eds. Dental Perspectives on Human Evolution. Dordrecht: Springer, 2007. 147–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Beynon A D, Dean M C, Leakey M G, et al. Comparative dental development and microstructure of Proconsul teeth from Rusinga Island, Kenya. J Hum Evol, 1998, 35: 163–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kelley J, Smith T M. Age at first molar emergence in early Miocene Afropithecus turkanensis and life-history evolution in the Hominoidea. J Hum Evol, 2003, 44: 307–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Smith T M, Martin L B, Reid D J, et al. An examination of dental development in Graecopithecus freybergi (=Ouranopithecus macedoniensis). J Hum Evol, 2004, 46: 551–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Kelley J, Dean M C, Reid D J. Molar growth in the late Miocene hominoid, Dryopithecus laietanus. In: Brook A, ed. Dental Morphology 2001: 12th International Symposium on Dental Morphology. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001. 123–134Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Mahoney P, Smith T M, Schwartz G T, et al. Molar crown formation in the Late Miocene Asian hominoids, Sivapithecus parvada and Sivapithecus indicus. J Hum Evol, 2007, 53: 61–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Schwartz G T, Liu W, Zheng L. Preliminary investigation of dental microstructure in the Yuanmou hominoid (Lufengpithecus hudienensis), Yunnan Province, China. J Hum Evol, 2003, 44: 189–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Dean M C, Schrenk F. Enamel thickness and development in a third permanent molar of Gigantopithecus blacki. J Hum Evol, 2003, 45: 381–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Lacruz R S, Ramirez-Rozzi F V. Molar crown development in Australopithecus afarensis. J Hum Evol, 2010, 58: 201–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Lacruz R S, Ramirez-Rozzi F V, Bromage T G. Variation in enamel development of South African fossil hominids. J Hum Evol, 2006, 51: 580–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Dean M C. Daily rates of dentine formation in macaque tooth roots. Int J Osteoarchaeol, 1993, 3: 199–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Dean M C. Growth layers and incremental markings in hard tissues: A review of the literature and some preliminary observations about enamel structure in Paranthropus boisei. J Hum Evol, 1987, 16: 157–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Smith T M, Harvati K, Olejniczak A J, et al. Brief communication: Dental development and enamel thickness in the Lakonis Neanderthal Molar. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009, 138: 112–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Reid D J, Ferrell R, Walton P. Histological of dental derived canine crown formation times from a medieval Danish sample. Am J Phys Anthrop, 2002, 34(Suppl): 129Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Fleagle J G. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. 2nd ed. San Diego: Academic Press, 1999Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2011

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Evolutionary Systematics of Vertebrates, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and PaleoanthropologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Laboratory of Human Evolution, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and PaleoanthropologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations