Developmental constraints conserve evolutionary pattern in an osteichthyan dentition

Moya Meredith Smith*, Natasha I. Krupina, Jean Joss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The lungfish dentition is different from other osteichthyan fish because it has a characteristic and unique pattern of teeth arranged as toothplates. Growth, addition of teeth, and retention as part of a statodont dentition are determined by the initiation pattern. In adult lungfish new teeth are only added laterally to each radial row in the dentition. This is in marked contrast to marginal rows of teeth with regular, alternating replacement in most osteichthyans. We analyze development from fossil hatchling forms of the Late Devonian dipnoan Andreyevichthys and compare with those of Neoceratodus, the Australian lungfish. The specific pattern of development, unique within lungfish, is also present in the transitory, marginal, anterior dentition in both, reflecting a strongly conserved developmental pattern. These marginal teeth form but are then lost in both, so that also this program of development is conserved within lungfish for 360 million years, from the earliest known form.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-119
Number of pages7
JournalConnective Tissue Research
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Constraints
  • Dentition
  • Development
  • Evolution
  • Lungfish
  • Toothplates


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