The Ratón Pérez collection: baby teeth at the service of the scientific community

Monday 20 September 2021

The Ratón Pérez collection is the result of a citizen science project that began to take shape in 2014 at the National Centre for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH) in Burgos, through tooth collection campaigns carried out in the framework of the European Researchers' Night. For four years, the campaigns were carried out in the city of Burgos and in 2018, the project went national, involving fourteen cities in nine Autonomous Communities.

To date, the collection has 2,977 milk teeth of children aged between 2 and 15 years. The teeth are treated and stored individually with their corresponding acronym and included in a database where all the information provided by the donor is collected anonymously and will be accessible to any researcher. It is a reference collection 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.

Marina Martínez de Pinillos / CENIEH
Marina Martínez de Pinillos / CENIEH

The recent publication by the Dental Anthropology Group, in collaboration with the Conservation and Restoration laboratory and the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i) of CENIEH in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, has made this collection, unique in the world, accessible to all researchers both physically and virtually, known to the international scientific community. This will make it possible to carry out important research in various fields, taking into account the sex and age of individuals, variables that paleoanthropological remains often cannot provide.

Since 2021, this project has the support of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and is working to establish collaborations with other countries so that the "tooth fairy collection" becomes an international project.
This project has managed to create a priceless collection of milk teeth that will undoubtedly be of great use in Palaeoanthropology and Forensic Sciences, among other disciplines. For this reason, the authors of this work take this opportunity to thank everyone - children and adults - who have altruistically participated in the creation of this collection by donating milk teeth.