Related topics: dinosaurs · fossil

Research team documents new discovery of dinosaur relative

Films such as those in the "Jurassic World" series feature a range of large prehistoric creatures, but Kwanasaurus has been absent from their plots. That's because the significantly smaller reptilian herbivore was only recently ...

Details of dental wear revealed

The teeth of mammals experience constant wear. However, the details of these wear processes are largely unknown. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now demonstrated that the various areas of herbivores' teeth differ ...

First skeletal remains of Phoebodus found in Morocco

An international team of researchers has found the first skeletal remains of Phoebodus—an ancient shark—in the Anti-Atlas Mountains in Morocco. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group ...

How do piranhas replace their sharp teeth?

Piranhas and their herbivorous cousins pacus have distinctive teeth used to tear through tough food. A recent paper by Matthew Kolmann, a postdoctoral fellow in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biological ...

What wolves' teeth reveal about their lives

UCLA evolutionary biologist Blaire Van Valkenburgh has spent more than three decades studying the skulls of many species of large carnivores—including wolves, lions and tigers— that lived from 50,000 years ago to the ...

These pink sea urchins have teeth that sharpen themselves

Sea urchins have five teeth, each held by a separate jaw in a circular arrangement at the center of their spiked, spherical bodies. Now, researchers reporting in the journal Matter on September 18 have discovered how the ...

The secret strength of gnashing teeth

The strength of teeth is told on the scale of millimeters. Porcelain smiles are kind of like ceramics—except that while china plates shatter when smashed against each other, our teeth don't, and it's because they are full ...

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Tooth

Teeth (singular tooth) are small whitish structures found in the jaws (or mouths) of many vertebrates that are used to tear, scrape, and chew food. Some animals, particularly carnivores, also use teeth for hunting or defense. The roots of teeth are covered by gums. Teeth are not made of bone, but rather of tissues of varying density and hardness.

Teeth are among the most distinctive (and long-lasting) features of mammal species. Paleontologists use teeth to identify fossil species and determine their relationships. The shape of the animal's teeth are related to its diet. For example, plant matter is hard to digest, so herbivores have many molars for chewing. Carnivores, on the other hand, need canines to kill prey and to tear meat.

Mammals are diphyodont, meaning that they develop two sets of teeth. In humans, the first set (the "baby," "milk," "primary" or "deciduous" set) normally starts to appear at about six months of age, although some babies are born with one or more visible teeth, known as neonatal teeth. Normal tooth eruption at about six months is known as teething and can be painful.

Some animals develop only one set of teeth (monophyodont) while others develop many sets (polyphyodont). Sharks, for example, grow a new set of teeth every two weeks to replace worn teeth. Rodent incisors grow and wear away continually through gnawing, maintaining relatively constant length. Many rodents such as voles (but not mice) and guinea pigs, as well as rabbits, have continuously growing molars in addition to incisors.

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