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Tiger Shark Teeth with Julia Türtscher

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Everything you need to know about Tiger Shark teeth! This week PhD student Julia Türtscher joins ut to tell us amazing things about shark teeth, like, did you know males and females can have differently shaped teeth? Or that teeth can change SEASONALLY?! Learn everything you need to know about shark teeth and what Julia and her team learned about tiger sharks from preserved jaws!

This week we dive into Julia's article, "Heterodonty and ontogenetic shift dynamics in the dentition of the tiger shark Galeocerdo cuvier (Chondrichthyes, Galeocerdidae)" Türtscher et al. (2022)

Article Summary:
The lifelong tooth replacement in elasmobranch fishes (sharks, rays, and skates) has led to the assemblage of a great number of teeth from fossil and extant species. Evaluating tooth morphology is important for taxonomic descriptions, and understanding how elasmobranchs have evolved when comparing extant teeth to fossil teeth. Heterodonty (various tooth morphologies) occurs in most elasmobranch species and has proven to be one of the main challenges for comparing extant and fossil teeth. Although numerous shark species are discovered and described every year, detailed descriptions of tooth morphologies and heterodonty patterns are lacking or are only insufficiently known for most species. In this study, Türtscher and colleagues generate 2D models of tiger shark teeth Galeocerdo cuvier to describe how teeth develop and change from embryo to adult. Türtscher and colleagues' results reveal rather gradual and subtle shape changes from embryos to adults, mostly characterized by the increasing size and complexity of the teeth. They furthermore provide the first comprehensive description of embryonic dental morphologies in tiger sharks. Finally, multiple cases of tooth file reversal are described. This study contributes to our knowledge of dental traits across age stages in the extant tiger shark G. cuvier and provides a baseline for further studies on the dental variation in sharks. Therefore, it has the potential to assist in elucidating the underlying developmental and evolutionary processes behind the vast dental diversity observed in elasmobranch fishes today and in deep time.

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