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Dental Functional Morphology: How Teeth Work


By: Peter W Lucas(Author)

355 pages, 91 illustrations, 25 tables

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Jun 2004 | #142913 | ISBN: 0521562368
Availability: In stock
Clearance price: £30.00 £103.00 (Save £73.00) $40/€34 approx

About this book

Dental Functional Morphology offers an alternative to the received wisdom that teeth merely crush, cut, shear or grind food and shows how teeth adapt to diet. Providing an analysis of tooth action based on an understanding of how food particles break, it shows how tooth form from the earliest mammals to modern-day humans can be understood using very basic considerations about fracture. It outlines the theoretical basis step by step, explaining the factors governing tooth shape and size and provides an allometric analysis that will revolutionize attitudes to the evolution of the human face and the impact of cooked foods on our dentition. In addition, the basis of the mechanics behind the fracture of different types of food, and methods of measurement are given in an easy-to-use appendix. It will be an important sourcebook for physical anthropologists, dental and food scientists, palaeontologists and those interested in feeding ecology.

"[...] provides a fresh perspective on dental function [...] readers interested in such topics as evolution, diet and ecology will enjoy his many other ideas about how vertebrate teeth work [...] Lucas succeeds in conveying his enthusiasm for the challenges of learning about the biology and ecology of organisms from such a small and humble organ. Although the book contains plenty of mechanics, the equations are presented clearly and well explained. Lucas has filled the text with fascinating observations, humorous asides and wonderfully detailed footnotes."
– Nature

"[...] a very well written text and covers a great deal of ground [...] The author's style is very chatty and his sense of humour pervades the whole text making the book very readable."
British Dental Journal

"[...] this is a great book, and I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in dental functional morphology."
American Journal of Physical Anthropology

"The book's strength lies in its focus on the application of engineering principles to questions of dental functional morphology [...] Dental Functional Morphology presents an original and comprehensive overview of its field, and it provides a rich source of fresh ideas, including testable hypotheses. The mechanical engineering approach outlined in the book will certainly lead to new studies and insights into the functional significance of the diverse morphologies of vertebrate teeth."

"[...] there is no other up-to-date single-authored book on the subject of dental functional morphology, so in this right this book is valuable. Lucas delivers a text worthy of use as a textbook and a primary source that will last for years to come. [...] It is clear, easy to read, with concepts explained in a sensible, logical manner that should appeal to students and researchers. His sparing use of jargon makes this an uncommonly accessible book; something that I anticipate will make this internationally cited and read. [...] I have rarely read such a book that has inspired me to add so much marginalia of future research ideas! If your work has any involvement of the function of dentitions or oral anatomy, you need to read this book."


1. How to get excited about teeth
2. The basic structure of the mammalian mouth
3. How the mouth operates
4. Tooth shape
5. Tooth size
6. Tooth wear
7. The evolution of the mammalian dentition

Appendix A. Mechanical properties and their measurement: material properties made easy
Appendix B. Properties of teeth and potential foods


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Peter W. Lucas is Professor of Anatomy at the University of Hong Kong.

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