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Name: Becky
Status: other
Age: other
Location: NV
Country: N/A
Date: 6/22/2005

So, my question is about wisdom teeth. What exactly are they for if all we do is get them pulled? What is their signifigance and why hasn't evolution weeded them out of our bodies? Also, why do we get them at such a late age?

This is a great example of structures that are in transition and that humans are still in the process of evolving. If you compare the skull of an ancient human, such as Neanderthals, with a modern human the jaw in the ancient human was more massive. This probably was due to the food sources that were available that required more force in chewing. As food sources changed, if the jaw started becoming smaller due to mutation it wouldn't affect survival. Remember, structures don't go away* because* they aren't used anymore. If they DO start to change AND it doesn't affect survival it doesn't matter. So, as the jaw became smaller, that doesn't necessarily mean the teeth would automatically also start to go away. These are separate structures under the control of separate genes. But that does mean that there is not as much room in the jaw for them. Some people don't have wisdom teeth-this would have been a disadvantage to a Neanderthal, but isn't for Homo sapiens. I only had 3 wisdom teeth. Why do they come in later in life? Not sure, but they are genetically programmed to do so.


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