CENIEH's Raton Perez collection will be accessible to researchers from all over the world

Thursday 12 August 2021
Around 3,000 deciduous teeth of modern humans currently make up the Ratón Pérez Collection of the National Centre for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH), a unique collection in the world created with the collaboration of hundreds of donors from all over Spain, and thanks to the support of the "la Caixa" Foundation and the Caja de Burgos Foundation.

The American Journal of Physical Anthropology publishes today an article by the CENIEH Dental Anthropology Group, in which the Conservation and Restoration Laboratory and the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i) have also participated, to inform the scientific community about this collection, which will allow research to be carried out in the field of forensic anthropology and human evolution.

As Marina Martínez de Pinillos, coordinator of the project and main author of the article, explains: "We are creating a reference collection that will be accessible to researchers from all corners of the world, both physically, at the Centre itself, and virtually, as all the teeth are scanned".

Researchers will also be able to access the records of the collection's database, which anonymously collects information on the sex, age of the individual and when the tooth fell out, type of lactation, and origin of their ancestors, among other data.

This database will allow important comparative studies to be carried out in the paleoanthropological, odontological and forensic fields, such as the external and internal morphological characterisation of the teeth, pathological studies and research into the pattern of dental development and histology.

Tooth Collection Campaigns

Citizen collaboration has been essential to create this collection, which began to take shape in 2014 in Burgos through tooth collection campaigns carried out in the framework of the European Researchers' Night by the UCC+i of the CENIEH. Since 2018, the campaigns have been carried out in nine Autonomous Communities, and the aim is to extend them to the rest of the communities, and even to other countries.

To date, nearly 3,000 milk teeth have been collected from children between the ages of 2 and 15 from all over Spain, who have generously participated in this citizen science project.

"We hope to continue counting on the disinterested collaboration of donors so that the collection can offer the scientific community an increasingly large sample that covers the greatest possible variability of teeth, ages and geographical origins", says Marina Martínez de Pinillos.