Looking for the evolutionary origins of our pretty smile
It takes both teeth and jaws to make a pretty smile, but the evolutionary origins of these parts of our anatomy have only just been discovered, thanks to a particle accelerator and a long dead fish.
All living jawed vertebrates (animals with backbones, such as humans) have teeth, but it has long been thought that the first jawed vertebrates lacked pearly gnashers, instead capturing prey with gruesome scissor-like jaw-bones. However new research, led by the University of Bristol and published today in Nature, shows that these earliest jawed vertebrates possessed teeth too indicating that teeth evolved along with, or soon after, the evolution of jaws.
Palaeontologists from Bristol, the Natural History Museum and Curtin University, Australia collaborated with physicists from Switzerland to study the jaws of a primitive jawed fish called Compagopiscis.
The international team studied fossils of Compagopiscis using high energy X-rays at the Swiss Light Source at the Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland, revealing the structure and development of teeth and bones. Lead author, Martin Ruecklin of the University of Bristol said: “We were able to visualise every tissue, cell and growth line within the bony jaws, allowing us to study the development of the jaws and teeth…
(read more: PhysOrg)
(images: Sculptured reconstruction of the placoderm Dunkleosteus - Credit: Esben Horn; CT-scan courtesy of Phil Anderson, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Michael Ryan and Eric Snively, Cleveland Museum of Natural History; model and images Martin Rücklin, University of Bristol)
More information: ‘Development of teeth and jaws in the earliest jawed vertebrates’ by Rücklin, M., Donoghue, P. C. J., Johanson, Z., Trinajstic, K., Marone, F. and Stampanoni, M., Nature, 2012.
Journal reference: Nature
Provided by University of Bristol
Hi guys! I think I’ll have some free time this weekend to write a post or two, but in the meantime, enjoy stuff from rhamphotheca here, he’s a pretty cool guy. I suggest you follow him if you like nature and animals and what have you.