KCU Associate Professor of Anatomy Barth Wright, PhD, is one of the co-authors of "Human Feeding Biomechanics: Performance, Variation and Functional Constraints." The study, which was recently published in PeerJ, an open access, online journal serving the biological and medical sciences, is discussed in a recent posting on ScienceBlog.
The study found that as early humans developed processing techniques that softened food and reduced food particle size, there was less environmental pressure to maintain the higher bite forces of our ancestors and primate relatives.
However, the resulting increased efficiency to the muscles involved in biting and chewing comes at a cost. The research supported the finding that, while humans have a high biting leverage, they are also at risk of dislocating the jaw joint during powerful molar biting. The study suggests that human craniofacial evolution, while efficient, is poorly suited to produce large biting forces because of a limitation in the jaw joint. (read the blog) (read the full paper)