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No. 71: Sep-Oct 1990

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Another Anomaly Bites The Dust

Some mysterious cultural practice of ancient people all over the world resulted in curious grooves on tooth surfaces. The grooves occur near the cementoenamel junction, mostly on molars and premolars, and usually on males. The diameter of the channel between adjacent teeth varies from 1-4 millimeters. (See SF#61 for an earlier item on the subject.)

Proposed solutions to this riddle range from bacterial attack, to gritty saliva propelled through the teeth, to the overenthusiastic use of bone toothpicks. But Australian aborigines have provided a more convincing explanation. When the aborigines want, thin, strong cords for fashioning spears and spearthrowers, they take a pliable, thinned, kangaroo sinew, pull it down between their molars like dental floss and begin "stripping" it, by pulling it back and forth. They get their thin cords this way but also grooved teeth. (Eckhardt, Robert B.; 'The Solution for Teething Problems," Nature, 345: 578, 1990.)

Comment. Unless someone comes up with a fatal objection to this theory, we must de-anomalize the grooved-teeth phenomenon.

From Science Frontiers #71, SEP-OCT 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987