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The palatal dentition of tetrapods and its functional significance.

August 31 , 2016

The presence of a palatal dentition is generally considered to be the primitive condition in amniotes, with each major lineage showing a tendency toward reduction. This study highlights the variation in palatal tooth arrangements and reveals clear trends within the evolutionary history of tetrapods. Major changes occurred in the transition between early tetrapods and amphibians on the one hand, and stem amniotes on the other. These changes reflect the function of the palatal dentition, which can play an important role in holding and manipulating food during feeding. Differences in the arrangement of palatal teeth, and in their pattern of loss, likely reflect differences in feeding strategy but also changes in the arrangement of cranial soft tissues, as the palatal dentition works best with a well-developed mobile tongue. It is difficult to explain the loss of palatal teeth in terms of any single factor, but palatal tooth patterns have the potential to provide new information on diet and feeding strategy in extinct taxa.

Ryoko Matsumoto and Susan E. Evans (2016)
The palatal dentition of tetrapods and its functional significance.
Journal of Anatomy (advance online publication)
DOI: 10.1111/joa.12534


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