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Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). Nilkrokodil.jpg
Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus).

A polyphyodont is any animal whose teeth are continually replaced. In contrast, diphyodonts are characterized by having only two successive sets of teeth. [1]


Polyphyodonts include most toothed fishes, many reptiles such as crocodiles and geckos, [2] [3] [4] and most other vertebrates, mammals being the main exception.


New, permanent teeth grow in the jaws, usually under or just behind the old tooth, from stem cells in the dental lamina. [5] Young animals typically have a full set of teeth when they hatch; there is no tooth change in the egg. Within days, tooth replacement begins, usually in the back of the jaw continuing forward like a wave. On average a tooth is replaced every few months.


Crocodilia are the only non-mammalian vertebrates with tooth sockets. [6] Alligators grow a successional tooth (a small replacement tooth) under each mature functional tooth for replacement once a year, each tooth being replaced up to 50 times in the alligator's life. [7] Crocodilia are researched for tooth regeneration in humans. [8]

Evolution in mammals

Manatees, elephants and kangaroos are unusual among mammals because they are polyphyodonts, in contrast to most other mammals which replace their teeth only once in their lives (diphyodont). Although most other extant mammals are not polyphyodont, mammalian ancestors were. During the evolution of Therapsida, there was a period during which mammals were so small and short-lived that wear on the teeth yielded no significant selection pressure to constantly replace them. Instead, mammals evolved different types of teeth which formed a unit able to crack the exoskeleton of arthropods. Molars came later in their evolution (as earlier in cerapods and Diplodocus [9] ). Mammals chew (masticate) their food which requires a set of firmly attached, strong teeth and a "full" tooth row without gaps.

The manatees have no incisor or canine teeth, just a set of cheek teeth, which are not clearly differentiated into molars and premolars. These teeth are continuously replaced throughout their life with new teeth growing at the rear as older teeth fall out from farther forward in the mouth, a process known as "hind molar progression" or “marching molars”. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Molar (tooth) Large tooth at the back of the mouth

The molars or molar teeth are large, flat teeth at the back of the mouth. They are more developed in mammals. They are used primarily to grind food during chewing. The name molar derives from Latin, molaris dens, meaning "millstone tooth", from mola, millstone and dens, tooth. Molars show a great deal of diversity in size and shape across mammal groups. The third molar of humans is sometimes vestigial.

Desmostylia Extinct order of mammals

The Desmostylia are an extinct order of aquatic mammals that existed from the early Oligocene (Rupelian) to the late Miocene (Tortonian).

Crocodilia Order of large reptiles

Crocodilia is an order of mostly large, predatory, semiaquatic reptiles, known as crocodilians. They first appeared 95 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous period and are the closest living relatives of birds, as the two groups are the only known survivors of the Archosauria. Members of the order's total group, the clade Pseudosuchia, appeared about 250 million years ago in the Early Triassic period, and diversified during the Mesozoic era. The order Crocodilia includes the true crocodiles, the alligators and caimans, and the gharial and false gharial. Although the term 'crocodiles' is sometimes used to refer to all of these, crocodilians is a less ambiguous vernacular term for members of this group.

Afrotheria clade of mammals containing elephants and elephant shrews

Afrotheria is a clade of mammals, the living members of which belong to groups that are either currently living in Africa or of African origin: golden moles, elephant shrews, tenrecs, aardvarks, hyraxes, elephants, sea cows, and several extinct clades. Most groups of afrotheres share little or no superficial resemblance, and their similarities have only become known in recent times because of genetics and molecular studies. Many afrothere groups are found mostly or exclusively in Africa, reflecting the fact that Africa was an island continent from the early Cenozoic until around 25 million years ago, when the Tethys Sea shrank.

Wisdom tooth Set of molars that erupt later in life

A third molar, commonly called wisdom tooth, is one of the three molars per quadrant of the human dentition. It is the most posterior of the three. The age at which wisdom teeth come through (erupt) is variable, but this generally occurs between late teens and early twenties. Most adults have four wisdom teeth, one in each of the four quadrants, but it is possible to have none, one to three, or more than four, in which case the extras are called supernumerary teeth. Wisdom teeth may get stuck (impacted) against other teeth if there is not enough space for them to come through normally. Impacted wisdom teeth are still sometimes removed for orthodontic treatment, believing that they move the other teeth and cause crowding, though this is not held anymore as true. Impacted wisdom teeth may suffer from tooth decay if oral hygiene becomes more difficult. Wisdom teeth which are partially erupted through the gum may also cause inflammation and infection in the surrounding gum tissues, termed pericoronitis. Some more conservative treatments, such as operculectomies, may be fitting for some cases, yet impacted wisdom teeth are commonly extracted as treatment for these problems, many times before these problems even occur. Some institutions and researchers oppose this preventive removal of disease-free impacted wisdom teeth, among them the United Kingdom's National Health Service and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Deciduous teeth First set of teeth in diphyodonts

Deciduous teeth or primary teeth, also informally known as baby teeth, milk teeth, or temporary teeth, are the first set of teeth in the growth and development of humans and other diphyodonts, which include most mammals but not elephants, kangaroos, or manatees which are polyphyodonts. Deciduous teeth develop during the embryonic stage of development and erupt during infancy. They are usually lost and replaced by permanent teeth, but in the absence of their permanent replacements, they can remain functional for many years into adulthood.

Dental lamina

The dental lamina is a band of epithelial tissue seen in histologic sections of a developing tooth. The dental lamina is first evidence of tooth development and begins at the sixth week in utero or three weeks after the rupture of the buccopharyngeal membrane. It is formed when cells of the oral ectoderm proliferate faster than cells of other areas. Best described as an in-growth of oral ectoderm, the dental lamina is frequently distinguished from the vestibular lamina, which develops concurrently. This dividing tissue is surrounded by and, some would argue, stimulated by ectomesenchymal growth. When it is present, the dental lamina connects the developing tooth bud to the epithelium of the oral cavity. Eventually, the dental lamina disintegrates into small clusters of epithelium and is resorbed. In situations when the clusters are not resorbed, eruption cysts are formed over the developing tooth and delay its eruption into the oral cavity. This invagination of ectodermal tissues is the progenitor to the later ameloblasts and enamel while the ectomesenchyme is responsible for the dental papilla and later odontoblasts.

A diphyodont is any animal with two successive sets of teeth, initially the "deciduous" set and consecutively the "permanent" set. Most mammals are diphyodonts—as to chew their food they need a strong, durable and complete set of teeth.

Animal tooth development

Tooth development or odontogenesis is the process in which teeth develop and grow into the mouth. Tooth development varies among species.

Morganucodonta Extinct order of mammaliaforms

Morganucodonta is an extinct order of basal Mammaliaformes, a group including crown-group mammals (Mammalia) and their close relatives. Their remains have been found in Southern Africa, Western Europe, North America, India and China. The morganucodontans were probably insectivorous and nocturnal, though like eutriconodonts some species attained large sizes and were carnivorous. Nocturnality is believed to have evolved in the earliest mammals in the Triassic as a specialisation that allowed them to exploit a safer, night-time niche, while most larger predators were likely to have been active during the day.

Streptococcus sobrinus is a Gram-positive, catalase-negative, non-motile, and anaerobic member of the genus Streptococcus.

Tooth Hard, calcified structure found in the jaws (or mouths) of many vertebrates and used to break down food

A tooth is a hard, calcified structure found in the jaws of many vertebrates and used to break down food. Some animals, particularly carnivores and omnivores, also use teeth to help with capturing or wounding prey, tearing food, for defensive purposes, to intimidate other animals often including their own, or to carry prey or their young. The roots of teeth are covered by gums. Teeth are not made of bone, but rather of multiple tissues of varying density and hardness that originate from the embryonic germ layer, the ectoderm.

Mammal tooth

Teeth are common to most vertebrates, but mammalian teeth are distinctive in having a variety of shapes and functions. This feature first arose among early therapsids during the Permian, and has continued to the present day. All therapsid groups with the exception of the mammals are now extinct, but each of these groups possessed different tooth patterns, which aids with the classification of fossils.

Crocodyloidea Superfamily of crocodiles

Crocodyloidea is one of three superfamilies of crocodylians, the other two being Alligatoroidea and Gavialoidea, and it includes the crocodiles. Crocodyloidea may also include the extinct Mekosuchinae, native to Australasia from the Eocene to the Holocene, although this is disputed.

Peter Ungar American paleoanthropologist

Peter S. Ungar is an American paleoanthropologist and evolutionary biologist.

Growing teeth is a bioengineering technology with the ultimate goal to create new full molars in a person or an animal.

Schultz's rule is a rule developed by Adolph Hans Schultz, declaring a relationship between the first tooth eruption of the molar versus the permanent teeth and the progress or aging of its carrier. It states that species that live longer have more wear on deciduous teeth and as a result start replacing them relatively early in life. Which is an indicator for examining fossil data. According to research, Myotragus balearicus follows Schultz's Rule.

<i>Ocepeia</i> Extinct Afrotherian mammal

Ocepeia is an extinct genus of afrotherian mammal that lived in present-day Morocco during the middle Paleocene epoch, approximately 60 million years ago. First named and described in 2001, the type species is O. daouiensis from the Selandian stage of Morocco's Ouled Abdoun Basin. A second, larger species, O. grandis, is known from the Thanetian, a slightly younger stage in the same area. In life, the two species are estimated to have weighed about 3.5 kg (7.7 lb) and 10 kg (22 lb), respectively, and are believed to have been specialized leaf-eaters. The fossil skulls of Ocepeia are the oldest known afrotherian skulls, and the best-known of any Paleocene mammal in Africa.

Hyaenodonta Extinct order of mammals

Hyaenodonta is an extinct order of hypercarnivorous placental mammals from clade Ferae. Hyaenodonts were important mammalian predators that arose during the early Paleocene in Africa and persisted well into the late Miocene.

Dinosaur tooth

Dinosaur teeth have been studied since 1822 when Mary Ann Mantell (1795-1869) and her husband Dr Gideon Algernon Mantell (1790-1852) discovered an Iguanodon tooth in Sussex in England. Unlike mammal teeth, individual dinosaur teeth are generally not considered by paleontologists to be diagnostic to the genus or species level for unknown taxa, due morphological convergence and variability between teeth. and many historically named tooth taxa like Paronychodon and Richardoestesia are today considered nomina dubia, and are used as form taxa to refer to isolated teeth from other localities displaced considerably in time and space from the type specimens. However, it is possible to refer isolated teeth to known taxa provided that the tooth morphology is known and the teeth originate from a similar time and place.


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