The Fossils in Your Mouth, with Natalia Reagan

Chasing down your dental fingerprint? A "teeth-mobile" at Burning Man. Credit: Natalia Reagan.

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About This Episode

Primatologist and comedian Natalia Reagan is back to host StarTalk All-Stars as she welcomes first-time comic co-host Patrick Melton and paleoanthropologist Shara Bailey to talk about the fossils in your mouth: teeth. As Shara points out, you can find out as much from an individual’s teeth as you can from a forensic study including diet, smoking habits, family relations, and more. You’ll hear why it’s scientifically helpful for paleontologists if you don’t brush your teeth. You’ll also learn how the bumps and grooves in teeth can link populations of certain individuals and Shara explains why teeth preserve better than any other part of the human body. Investigate the absence of crooked teeth in the fossil record, wisdom teeth trends in farming culture, and why you can’t do the same in-depth research with animal teeth. Explore Homo naledi, the new species of genus Homo that Shara helped discover. Shara also shares the advancements in dental paleontology technology that allows for the study of teeth without damaging enamel. All that, plus, our trio answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about baby teeth, early human diets, and more!

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: The Fossils in Your Mouth, with Natalia Reagan

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