From an utterly weird article by William Brennan on incels and orthodontics, I extract this bit about the history of our teeth:
On a Friday in August, I met with an anthropologist named Janet Monge in a ground-floor classroom at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. Monge is a warm and voluble person, with a mane of gray-white hair and an easy smile. Since the early 1990s, she has been the keeper of one of the world’s largest and most geographically diverse collections of ancient skulls, housed at the University of Pennsylvania. The specimens had originally been gathered by the physician Samuel Morton in the 19th century. Monge noted that Morton collected the skulls for racist purposes, measuring the projection of his specimens’ jaws in an attempt to assess their level of civilizational enlightenment. The same large, forward-grown jaws the Mews prize as signs of health and beauty, Morton disdained as markers of inherent cultural and biological inferiority.
The Morton specimens sat in cases all around, peering out at us with enormous, empty sockets and gleaming teeth. In a plastic container, Monge had placed skulls from the Middle East, West Africa, Eastern Europe and beyond. When I asked her if she’d ever seen an ancient specimen with crooked teeth, she didn’t hesitate: “No, not one. Ever.” Most of the skulls in the Penn collection date from a 40,000-year period starting late in the Stone Age and ending around 300 years ago, yet “they all have an edge-to-edge bite,” “robust” jaws and “perfect” occlusion, Monge said.
But then, in specimens from people who lived two centuries ago or less, Monge noted a striking change: The edge-to-edge bite completely disappears, and malocclusion suddenly runs rampant. She pointed to a skull on a nearby shelf — that of a woman who lived in 19th-century North America. Unlike the ancient skulls, this postindustrial woman’s maxilla was crinkled and small; the teeth that remained sat crammed together. “I always told my students, ‘Something happened 200 years ago and nobody has an edge-to-edge bite anymore — and I have no freaking idea why,’” Monge said. She took the skull of a preindustrial Siberian man out of her container and clicked the mandible into place. The bone was thick; the teeth met so neatly that they appeared pulled from an Invisalign ad. Monge laughed, her open mouth revealing a pair of missing molars. She cradled the skull in her hand. “Isn’t that just perfect?”
Both Brennan and Monge seem not to have done enough research to learn that many people have wondered about exactly this change in our teeth, including me.
In 2013 when I last wrote about the impact of modern diets on our teeth I mused, "Perhaps when the Undomesticated Men finally make their appearance in the mountains of Idaho, they will raise their children without forks and make them gnaw their meat off the bone, so their teeth don't go soft and over-civilized." I had no idea that many men were already doing this, and that within five years "mewing" –trying to force your teeth back into a Paleolithic posture – would be a fad endorsed by various YouTube personalities and particularly common among "incels" who think women won't have them because their faces are too weak and unmasculine.