Moscow University

The frequency of enamel hypoplasia in groups from contrasting climatic-geographical zones

Buzhilova A.P., Karaseva N.M.

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Anuchin Institute and Museum of Anthropology, Mochovaya st., 11, Moscow, 125009, Russia

Buzhilova Alexandra P., PhD, D.Sc.; ORCID ID: 0000-0001-6398-2177; e-mail:; Karaseva Nika M., researcher,


The craniological series from the funds of the Research Institute and the Museum of Anthropology of the Moscow State University and Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences were studied. Deciduous and permanent teeth have been studied in the series of the modern population of three climatic-geographical zones: temperate, tropical, and arctic. Materials and methods. The total sample size is 895 individuals, 415 men, 428 women and 52 immature individuals. Sample from the temperate zone is 352 individuals, the tropical zone – 99 individuals, and the arctic zone – 444 individuals. Evaluation of the frequency of stress-related episodes in childhood was carried out by analyzing enamel hypoplasia, an indicator of growth arrests and underdevelopment of tooth enamel due to physiological stress. The indicator was scored as the presence or absence of a trait in an individual. Results. The maximum level of enamel hypoplasia are found on the teeth of the arctic area series (19.4%), among the groups of other habitats the frequency of the enamel hypoplasia is lower (6.8% among the representatives of the temperate climate zone and 10.1% – of the tropical area). The index of enamel hypoplasia demonstrates significant differences between the arctic group and temperate and tropical zone groups. The sexual dimorphism demonstrates statistically insignificant differences: in the group from the temperate zone the level of enamel hypoplasia slightly prevails in women, and in tropical and arctic groups enamel hypoplasia occurs predominantly in men. No reliable direct correlation was found between the age of death and the presence of enamel hypoplasia. The inhabitants of the tropics show high level of the indicator in individuals who died in childhood and young age; people in the temperate zone demonstrate the highest level of enamel hypoplasia in young age; among the inhabitants of the arctic zone the greatest number of enamel hypoplasia was observed on the teeth of mature people, and the index is even recorded in the elderly. It has been suggested that the stresses of childhood are qualitatively different in different geographical areas. If in tropical they lead to early mortality, in the arctic group they do not lead to a decrease in life expectancy. Discussion. The results correspond to the well-known discussion about the so-called osteological paradox: high levels of physiological stress indicators combined with “normal” demographic indicators may indicate a high degree of stress-resistance of the group.


paleoanthropology; odontology; paleopathology; ontogenesis; adaptation; physiological stress

DOI: 10.32521/2074-8132.2019.2.051-060

Цит.: Buzhilova A.P., Karaseva N.M. The frequency of enamel hypoplasia in groups from contrasting climatic-geographical zones // Moscow University Anthropology Bulletin (Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta. Seria XXIII. Antropologia), 2019; 2/2019; с. 51-60

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