Science & Technology

Scientists traced the strange origins of fangs and figured out where they came from

Stick the turtle’s beak on the baby’s hippopotamus. Then twist the front leg so that it sticks out to either side, but keep the rear leg straight. And give it fangs. Presto, you have something a bit like a prototype of a mammal-like animal that walked the planet hundreds of millions of years ago.

These creatures are called dicynodonts, a term that means “two canines,” in connection with an impressive pair of canines protruding from the animal’s mouth. And it is these teeth that tell us why we can’t find tusks on something with wings or scales.

“Fangs are this very famous anatomy, but until I started working on this study, I had never really thought about how tusks are limited to mammals.” To tell Megan Whitney, a researcher in evolutionary biology at Harvard University.

Strictly speaking, dicynodonts are not mammals in their own right, but belong to a group of extinct relatives. Therapsids..

From what they can hold from the Permian to the final extinction in the Triassic, about 200 million years ago. Elephantine Beast..

They also had nothing if they didn’t succeed. Range of ecological niche..

(Ken Angielczyk)

Above: Skull of the Tanzania dicynodont Dolichuranus. You can see the big fangs in the lower left.

These prominent teeth have received a lot of attention since the first dicynodont fossils were scrutinized over 150 years ago.Famous paleontologist Richard Owen gave us the first real insight into teeth 1845, They claim to be mostly made of dentin, with a thin layer of enamel and cementum, and a fairly open pulp cavity.

Since then, studies of other specimens have pointed out the lack of dentin, throwing suggestions like rabbit teeth (and, for that matter, the tusks of modern animals like elephants and walruses), and canines growing. I didn’t stop. At least in some species.

To know how extinct animals behaved, it is important to have an accurate understanding of how teeth grow.

But it also raises an interesting philosophical question, which has consequences for understanding our own evolution.

“In this paper, we needed to define fangs because it’s a surprisingly ambiguous term.” To tell Whitney.

This is what they came up with because we are all on the same page.

Usually when we talk about fangs, we refer to teeth that poke a considerable distance from the oral cavity.Not to mention desert warthogs, walruses, mammoths, and Hyrax eyes..

To distinguish the prominent teeth from the jagged chopper of the crocodile, the true fangs are defined by continuous growth and literally lengthen in the teeth.

How about mice and rabbits? Their long teeth may continue to grow, but they are always coated with a durable surface called enamel.

I don’t care about fangs. Coating them with enamel will certainly help make them stronger, but their oblique angles make it almost impossible for the body to put on a consistent coat.

Finally, the fangs are firmly secured by ligaments and can withstand occasional hard knocks.

All of these functions, in contrast to most other teeth, reflect the suffering of fang use and abuse. They are commonly used to dig up mud and fight rivals and predators, so they need to be durable enough to do their job, but they can easily be regenerated if damaged.

Looking at the teeth of various dicynodonts, researchers repeated quite a variety of previous discoveries among the famous old canines. Not only are true fangs likely to be found in new Dicynodont species, but they have evolved independently of non-tusks throughout the family tree.

Knowing the steps taken to evolve teeth in these ancient animals and a clear definition of the characteristic features of tusks will give a clearer understanding of why teeth do not appear in lizards, fish, or amphibians. It came to be.

“For example, this study shows that the evolution of true tusks requires reduced tooth replacement rates and flexible ligaments that attach the teeth to the jaw.” To tell Ken Angierchik, curator of the Field Museum in Chicago.

“It’s all a ladder to give us a better understanding of the fangs we see in mammals today.”

This study was published in Bulletin of Royal Society B Biological Science..

Scientists traced the strange origins of fangs and figured out where they came from Scientists traced the strange origins of fangs and figured out where they came from

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