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Eur J Oral Sci. 1998 Jan;106 Suppl 1:437-81.

Evolution of patterns and processes in teeth and tooth-related tissues in non-mammalian vertebrates.

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  • 1Zoological Institute, University of Ghent, Belgium.


The evolutionary links that exist between odontodes and organs that are phylogenetically related to them (teeth and scales) suggest the use of comparative approaches to study these structures. Part one of this review briefly introduces current ideas on how the pattern of odontodes and odontode-derived tissues has been established during evolution to yield the diversity of odontode-related organs currently observed in nature in the cranial and postcranial skeleton. This introductory survey is used to highlight aspects of the developmental processes underlying the formation of some of these organs and the resemblance their development bears to odontogenesis. Part two provides a concise survey of the diversity of tooth structure in the different classes of extant vertebrates, in particular with reference to enamel/enameloid and dentine structure, and tooth attachment. Against this background, the current state of knowledge is reviewed with regard to developmental mechanisms involved in non-mammalian odontogenesis. Common structure and similarities in development demonstrate that teeth and odontode derivatives should not be considered subjects of separate lines of research. On the contrary, results acquired in one of these fields are relevant to the other and may disclose model species that are relevant to studies on mammalian odontogenesis.

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