Acanthodian dental development and the origin of gnathostome dentitions

Published on
06. May 2021

Acanthodian dental development and the origin of gnathostome dentitions

Rücklin, M., King, B., Cunningham, J.A. et al.


Chondrichthyan dentitions are conventionally interpreted to reflect the ancestral gnathostome condition but interpretations of osteichthyan dental evolution in this light have proved unsuccessful, perhaps because chondrichthyan dentitions are equally specialized, or else evolved independently. Ischnacanthid acanthodians are stem-Chondrichthyes; as phylogenetic intermediates of osteichthyans and crown-chondrichthyans, the nature of their enigmatic dentition may inform homology and the ancestral gnathostome condition. Here we show that ischnacanthid marginal dentitions were statodont, composed of multicuspidate teeth added in distally diverging rows and through proximal superpositional replacement, while their symphyseal tooth whorls are comparable to chondrichthyan and osteichthyan counterparts. Ancestral state estimation indicates the presence of oral tubercles on the jaws of the gnathostome crown-ancestor; tooth whorls or tooth rows evolved independently in placoderms, osteichthyans, ischnacanthids, other acanthodians and crown-chondrichthyans. Crown-chondrichthyan dentitions are derived relative to the gnathostome crown-ancestor, which possessed a simple dentition and lacked a permanent dental lamina, which evolved independently in Chondrichthyes and Osteichthyes.

Nat Ecol Evol (2021), DOI: 10.1038/s41559-021-01458-4


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