The paired symphyseal tooth whorls of the Carboniferous chondrichthyan Edestus are perhaps the most enigmatic dental structures of any known vertebrate. The tooth whorls have been compared to scissors or to saw blades. It is commonly held that the tooth whorls were used in opposition, to cut prey caught between them. However, the curvature of the whorls makes such a function inefficient and therefore implausible. A symphyseal tooth of Edestus minor from the Pennsylvanian of Texas provides the first new information bearing on the function of Edestus tooth whorls in over a century. The tooth is truncated apically, and the surface of the surviving portion is worn smooth. The orientation of the abraded surface, perpendicular to the axis of the crown, suggests that the tooth whorls were used to slash prey with a vertical motion of the anterior part of the body. Such a mode of predation apparently has not been reported in any other organism, extinct or extant. In contrast to Edestus, wear to the symphyseal teeth of Helicampodus is to the sides of the crowns, probably resulting from contact with the opposing dentition. Unpublished notes of W. Langston, Jr. (1921–2013) on the interpretation of the Edestus tooth from Texas are discussed.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.