OCT 07, 2016 12:43 PM PDT

With a 400-Million Year Old Fossil and 3D Printing, Scientists Study Teeth Origins

The origin of teeth in the evolutionary mystery of the world’s animal timeline is very much a mystery. We know animals haven’t had teeth since the dawn of time, but what we don’t know exactly when teeth started to first appear in animals on Earth.
 
Although many scientists were convinced that teeth may have existed in Earthly creatures as early as 400 million years ago, a new study that appears in Biology Letters is really starting to shake things up about our knowledge into the origins of jaws and teeth in animals.
 

 Image Credit: Australian National University (ANU)/YouTube

To learn more, scientists from Australian National University have taken the fossil of a 400 million-year-old armored fish from the extinct placoderm family known as Buchanosteus.
 
This fish is particularly important because it’s one of the first known to have developed a jaw, which is typically required for the formation of teeth, and it has teeth-like appendages inside of its mouth.
 
They used micro-CT scanning to create accurate 3D-printed three-dimensional structures of the skull and jaws of the fish to study it in more detail, as they can’t really do much testing on the delicate fossil itself without running the risk of destroying it.
 
"We are conducting further research on the internal tissue structure of tooth-like denticles in the mouth of the fish fossil, to determine whether they represent a transitional stage in the evolution of teeth," study co-author Gavin Young said.
 
The scientists have found that the denticles inside the mouth resemble teeth, but there’s some debate as to whether or not the species actually had what we would consider modern day teeth. Instead, they’re just hard bumps that may have been used to help with grinding.
 
One thing the team agrees on is their research debunks an earlier study from 2015 that suggested placoderms actually had teeth. Nevertheless, these formations inside the placoderms’ mouths may have helped lay out the groundworks for what we consider teeth in the modern world.
 
Despite what the scientists explain in the study, there is still quite a bit of confusion as to exactly when teeth started showing up in animals on Earth. We still don’t really understand at what point in evolution this began to be a thing or what species it began with.
 


Nevertheless, as technology in the field advances, and the knowledge base grows, scientists may soon find the answers to all of the questions they're looking for.
 
Source: Australian National University via R&DMag

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 23, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 23, 2019
Here's Everything You Need to Know About a Kangaroo's Pouch
Kangaroos are particularly interesting creatures, and perhaps one of their most recognizable attributes is the pouch on mothers’ bellies that provide...
OCT 23, 2019
Earth & The Environment
OCT 23, 2019
Hawaiian Seamounts Recovering, Thanks to 40 Years of Protection
After 40 years of federal protection, a seamount coral community in Hawaii is showing signs of recovery. The Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain was heavily fi...
OCT 23, 2019
Immunology
OCT 23, 2019
Diseases We Share with Our Canine Companions: Autoimmune Encephalitis in Dogs
Like humans, dogs can develop autoimmune encephalitis, and it’s common - mostly affecting smaller breeds and young adult dogs. Now scientists underst...
OCT 23, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
OCT 23, 2019
End of Life Cannabis Bill Passes California Legislature
The legal medical use of cannabis varies from state to state. A new bill in California would require hospitals to allow cannabis use by terminal patients....
OCT 23, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 23, 2019
Deep-Sea Critters Opportunistically Munch on a Sunken Whale Carcass
The ocean floor can be a lifeless and desolate place to be; so much so that marine animals have taken notice. It’s not often that you’ll find f...
OCT 23, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 23, 2019
Gaining Insight Into How Organisms Adapt to Changing Environments
Spadefoot toads are known to be shape-shifters; they can rapidly change their behavior and physiology to adapt to environmental changes....
Loading Comments...