The earliest toothless hominin skull


The site of Dmanisi in the Eurasian republic of Georgia has yielded striking hominin, faunal and archaeological material as evidence for the presence of early Homo outside Africa 1.77 million years ago, documenting an important episode in human evolution. Here we describe a beautifully preserved skull and jawbone from a Dmanisi hominin of this period who had lost all but one tooth several years before death. This specimen not only represents the earliest case of severe masticatory impairment in the hominin fossil record to be discovered so far, but also raises questions about alternative subsistence strategies in early Homo.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Edentulous hominin skull from Dmanisi, Georgia.


  1. 1

    Gabunia, L. et al. Science 288, 1019–1025 (2000).

  2. 2

    Vekua, A. et al. Science 297, 85–89 (2002).

  3. 3

    Atwood, D. A. J. Prosthet. Dent. 26, 266–273 (1971).

  4. 4

    Lebel, S. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 98, 11097–11102 (2001).

  5. 5

    Tappen, N. C. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 67, 43–50 (1985).

  6. 6

    Miles, A. E. W. & Grigson, C. Colyer's Variations and Diseases of the Teeth of Animals (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1990).

  7. 7

    Gaudzinski, S. J. Archaeol. Sci. 31, 65–75 (2004).

  8. 8

    Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Pickering, T. R., Sema, S. & Rogers, M. J. J. Hum. Evol. 41, 109–121 (2005).

  9. 9

    Foley, R. in Meat Eating and Human Evolution (eds Standford, C. B. & Bunn, H. T.) 305–331 (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, 2001).

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to David Lordkipanidze.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lordkipanidze, D., Vekua, A., Ferring, R. et al. The earliest toothless hominin skull. Nature 434, 717–718 (2005).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.