Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dental Crowns Reveal The Diet Of A Species

Date:
December 15, 2006
Source:
University of Helsinki
Summary:
According to recent research, the complexity of tooth surfaces reveals the diet of a species. Scientists at the University of Helsinki's Institute of Biotechnology and Department of Geology showed that the more complex the surface of an animal's teeth, the greater the share of vegetables in its diet. For instance, the teeth of carnivores and rodents differ in almost every aspect, but if a carnivore and a rodent eat similar food, their teeth are equally complex. The results were published in Nature.

According to recent research, the complexity of tooth surfaces reveals the diet of a species. Scientists at the University of Helsinki's Institute of Biotechnology and Department of Geology showed that the more complex the surface of an animal's teeth, the greater the share of vegetables in its diet. For instance, the teeth of carnivores and rodents differ in almost every aspect, but if a carnivore and a rodent eat similar food, their teeth are equally complex. The results were published in Nature.

The size, number, occlusion and dental crown cusps of carnivores and rodents, such as cats and mice, are very different. Based on their research, the Helsinki scientists discovered that although the teeth of rodents and predators seem very different, the values describing their complexity correspond if the species share a similar diet. Both groups have species that eat both meat and vegetable foods.

The scientists studied the differences in the teeth of various species by measuring the molar crowns of 81 mammalian species and, based on the measurements, creating 3D virtual models of them. The models were then used to develop new methods of measurement, which enable scientists to identify all the parts of teeth that break down the food, the 'tools', as it were.

New database is the first to offer information on phenotypes

The 3D virtual models were entered in the MorphoBrowser database created by the team's scientists. The database now contains data on fossils, existing animals as well as the modified teeth of mutant mice. The open access database for the first time makes phenotypes, or 3D models of the information contained in the genes, publicly available on the Internet. This can be compared to the information on the genetic sequences of different species (such as the human genome), which have been available on public databases for quite a while.

3D measurements enable scientists to determine the diet of extinct animals even in taxonomic groups that have no counterparts in living species. Indeed, the database is particularly useful to evolutionary scientists, who study the diet of extinct species based on the shape of their molars. This new approach also creates opportunities for studying the relationship between dental shapes and developmental biology.

The research was financed by the Systems Biology and Bioinformatics Research Programme of the Academy of Finland.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Helsinki. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Helsinki. "Dental Crowns Reveal The Diet Of A Species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061214142332.htm>.
University of Helsinki. (2006, December 15). Dental Crowns Reveal The Diet Of A Species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061214142332.htm
University of Helsinki. "Dental Crowns Reveal The Diet Of A Species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061214142332.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins