Saturday, March 31, 2012

What Animal has the Sharpest Teeth?


When you think on an animal with sharp teeth, the first animals that come to mind are lions or snakes. This article is interesting because the animal with the sharpest teeth actually did not have a jaw. They actually have a circular mouth that would gnaw at its food. This bizarre animal is known as the Conodonts. They are long and slender like an eel. The animal lived 550 million years ago. There are numerous fossils that have been found. But, studies have recently found fossils that show evidence of the Conodonts’ teeth.
The study looked at the fossils from Wurmiella excavata. This is a species of the Conodonts. The researchers were able to show models of the animals’ teeth with the use of x-rays. There are three types of teeth formations that have been found: the single-cone, blade, and the platform type. The single-cone type has only one very sharp tooth. The blade type resembles a small saw. Finally the platform type with has a top and bottom that are slide past one another. (Muller 1978)
They are believed to be one of the first animals to have teeth. The teeth are shown in the picture below in a size comparison with a penny. The teeth are one-twelfth the width of a human hair. As you can see, the teeth are extremely small. The problem with these sharp teeth is that they are more prone to breaking. The teeth are able to sharpen themselves by rubbing together. They would slice food by sliding their teeth from left to right. The inter-angles of the blade-like teeth would have trapped the food in the back of the mouth and the slicing would move it the food forward. The fossilized teeth are very abundant in sedimentary marine rock. 

Bell, Alexandra, March 14, 2012 Jawless Vertebrate has the World’s Sharpest Teeth http://www.nature.com/news/jawless-vertebrate-had-world-s-sharpest-teeth-1.10211 March 27, 2012

2 comments:

  1. This is very interesting. To be able to tell their teeth by x-ray and that they lived so many millions of years ago and to be known as possibly the first organism with teeth but no jaw. Out of the three types of teeth, single-cone, blade, and the platform type, which is the sharpest and best for the Conodonts? Did you come across the food that these Conodonts ate? I think it would be interesting to research more information on this creature.

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  2. I can see how an animal with no jaw would have to have the sharpest teeth; however, if they do not have jaws where is it the teeth anchor? Cartilage or flesh?

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