Histological evidence for a dynamic dental battery in hadrosaurid dinosaurs

Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 17;7(1):15787. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-16056-3.

Abstract

The first histological study of an entire hadrosaurid dental battery provides a comprehensive look at tooth movement within this complex structure. Previous studies have focused on isolated teeth, or in-situ batteries, but this is the first study to examine an entire dental battery of any dinosaur. The absence of direct tooth-to-tooth contact across the entire battery and a unique arrangement of the dental tissues in hadrosaurids led us to compare their teeth with the ever-growing incisors of mammals. The similarity in the distributions of tissues along the incisor, coupled with continuous eruption, make for helpful comparisons to hadrosaurid teeth. The mammalian ever-growing incisor can be used as a model to extrapolate the soft tissue connections and eruptive mechanisms within the hadrosaurid dental battery. Serial sections across the adult dental battery reveal signs of gradual ontogenetic tooth migration. Extensive remodeling of the alveolar septa and the anteroposterior displacement of successive generations of teeth highlight the gradual migration of tooth generations within the battery. These eruptive and ontogenetic tooth movements would not be possible without a ligamentous connection between successive teeth and the jaws, underscoring the dynamic nature of one of the most unique and complex dental systems in vertebrate history.

MeSH terms

  • Alveolar Process / anatomy & histology
  • Animals
  • Dinosaurs / anatomy & histology*
  • Extinction, Biological
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Periodontal Ligament / cytology
  • Tooth / cytology*
  • Tooth Migration
  • Tooth Resorption / pathology