Anthropology professor Scott Legge takes us on a tour of his office while explaining his field of study, biological anthropology.

Professor Scott Legge and Anna Hardin ’12 have been awarded a grant from the Kraus Anderson Scholars Summer Research Fund to continue the research they began last June on the baby teeth of the great apes.

Physical anthropologists often use variations in human and primate adult teeth to study genetic differences between populations, but last summer Legge and Hardin decided to find out if baby teeth show similar variable characteristics. After two months observing the molars of almost 200 chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas, they discovered that many traits found on juvenile teeth do differ according to species.

This summer, with the support of a Keck grant, they will go to the Powell-Cotton Museum in England and use the museum’s large collection of ape skeletal remains to expand their study. Legge and Hardin hope to be able to use traits in baby teeth to differentiate between apes of the same species or sub-species that are geographically isolated.

Hardin will be presenting their findings at the 2011 American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) conference at the Minneapolis Hilton at the undergraduate research symposium on Wednesday, April 13 and at the “Teeth: Morphology, Diet and Health” poster session on Friday, April 15.

April 5 2011

Back to top