Holly Smith: The age of IDA - on the study of tooth development

Early evolution of primates and how to tell the story

Dr Holly Smith

Holly Smith is an associate research scientist at the Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan. She specializes in the evolution of mammalian dentition.

Through an extensive study of Ida's teeth using the Senckenberg CT scans, Smith was able to determine Ida's age and her life expectancy. "She could have lived as long as twenty years, but she would have been an adult in three to four years," Smith concludes. "She was probably a third of the way to being an adult when she died."

Like her fellow scientists, Smith points out that having an early complete specimen to study makes early primate evolution tangible. Smith says Ida has "more information in her than any fossil I've ever seen".

Published June 23, 2010 1:02 PM