Mentum osseum: Analysis of the evolutionary hypotheses for the ontogeny and phylogeny of the human chin

Daniela Cunha, Filipe Monteiro, Martin Čuta


CUNHA, Daniela, MONTEIRO, Filipe and ČUTA, Martin. Mentum osseum: Analysis of the evolutionary hypotheses for the ontogeny and phylogeny of the human chin. In: Sandra SÁZELOVÁ, Martin NOVÁK and Alena MIZEROVÁ (eds.). Forgotten times and spaces: New perspectives in paleoanthropological, paleoetnological and archeological studies. 1st Edition. Brno: Institute of Archeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences; Masaryk University, 2015, pp. 98-106. ISBN 978-80-7524-000-2; 978-80-210-7781-2. DOI: 10.5817/CZ.MUNI.M210-7781-2015-9.


This overview paper presents the leading theories which attempt to explain the emergence of one of the prominent features specific to our species – the protruding chin. Established theories discussing this phenomenon include the effect of masticatory stress theory, a sexual selection theory and theories relating the human chin to the emergence of spoken language. However, these explanations have proved inconclusive and the processes responsible for the emergence of mentum osseum in the Late Pleistocene remain unclear.


Human chin, mentum osseum, masticatory stress, sexual selection, association with spoken language emergence


Ce article de synthèse présente les théories principales qui tentent d'expliquer l'émergence de l'un des traits marquants spécifiques de notre espèce : le menton saillant. Les théories établies relatives à ce phénomène sont les suivantes : la théorie du stress de la mastication, la théorie de la sélection sexuelle et enfin les théories relatives au menton humain et à l'émergence du language articulée. Cependant, les explications qui ont été proposées par les auteurs se révèlent non conluantes et les processus responsables de l'émergence du Mentum osseum à la fin du Pléistocène restent flous.


Diese Übersicht legt die führenden Theorien vor, die die Entstehung eines der bedeutenden Kennzeichen unserer Spezies – das hervorstehende Kinn – zu erklären versuchen. Unter den gegenwärtigen Theorien, die dieses Phänomen behandeln, gehören die Theorie vom Einfluss der Belastung bei Kauen (Kau-Stress-Theorie), die Theorie von der sexuellen Selektion und Theorien vom Einfluss des menschlichen Kinns auf die Entstehung der gesprochenen Sprache. Allerdings sind die Erklärungen, die von den Autoren vorgeschlagen wurden, nicht überzeugend und die Prozesse, die für die Entstehung von Mentum osseum im späten Pleistozän verantwortlich sind, bleiben unklar.


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