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Dental Occlusion in a 260-Million-Year-Old Therapsid with Saber Canines from the Permian of Brazil

Science  25 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6024, pp. 1603-1605
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200305

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Abstract

Anomodonts, a group of herbivorous therapsid “mammal-like reptiles,” were the most abundant tetrapods of the Permian. We present a basal anomodont from South America, a new taxon that has transversally expanded palatal teeth and long saber canines. The function of the saber teeth is unknown, but probable uses include deterring attack from predators and intraspecific display or combat. The complex palatal teeth were used to process high-fiber food and represent early evidence of dental occlusion in a therapsid. This discovery provides new insight into the evolution of heterogeneous dentition in therapsids and broadens our understanding of ecological interactions at the end of the Paleozoic.

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