Evidence for a single loss of mineralized teeth in the common avian ancestor.

Journal Article

Edentulism, the absence of teeth, has evolved convergently among vertebrates, including birds, turtles, and several lineages of mammals. Instead of teeth, modern birds (Neornithes) use a horny beak (rhamphotheca) and a muscular gizzard to acquire and process food. We performed comparative genomic analyses representing lineages of nearly all extant bird orders and recovered shared, inactivating mutations within genes expressed in both the enamel and dentin of teeth of other vertebrate species, indicating that the common ancestor of modern birds lacked mineralized teeth. We estimate that tooth loss, or at least the loss of enamel caps that provide the outer layer of mineralized teeth, occurred about 116 million years ago.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Meredith, RW; Zhang, G; Gilbert, MTP; Jarvis, ED; Springer, MS

Published Date

  • December 11, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 346 / 6215

Start / End Page

  • 1254390 -

PubMed ID

  • 25504730

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1095-9203

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0036-8075

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1126/science.1254390

Language

  • eng