Even with a few cavities our teeth will probably outlast us by tens of thousands of years.
Shara Bailey, associate professor of anthropology at New York University, discusses some of the things teeth have taught us about where we came from—and what special adaptations we still carry in our mouths today.
A set of teeth and perhaps a piece of a jaw are often all anthropologists have to work with when combing the fossil record for clues about human evolution, she says.
Fortunately, these ancient dental records can provide a wealth of information about our ancestors—from what they ate to how they lived.
By identifying a particular tooth, for example, she was able to help prove that humans coexisted with Neanderthals in the same area of western Europe about 42,000 years ago.