Chapter 14. The Economy of Tinkering Mammalian Teeth

  1. Gregory Bock Organizer and
  2. Jamie Goode
  1. Jukka Jernvall and
  2. Isaac Salazar-Ciudad

Published Online: 11 JUN 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470319390.ch14

Tinkering: The Microevolution of Development: Novartis Foundation Symposium 284

Tinkering: The Microevolution of Development: Novartis Foundation Symposium 284

How to Cite

Jernvall, J. and Salazar-Ciudad, I. (2006) The Economy of Tinkering Mammalian Teeth, in Tinkering: The Microevolution of Development: Novartis Foundation Symposium 284 (eds G. Bock and J. Goode), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470319390.ch14

Author Information

  1. Developmental Biology Program, Institute of Biotechnology, Viikki Biocenter, P.O. Box 56, University of Helsinki, FIN-00014, Helsinki, Finland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 11 JUN 2007
  2. Published Print: 8 JUN 2006

Book Series:

  1. Novartis Foundation Symposia

Book Series Editors:

  1. Novartis Foundation

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470034293

Online ISBN: 9780470319390

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Keywords:

  • teeth;
  • diet;
  • complexity;
  • cusps;
  • development;
  • enamel knot;
  • patterning cascade;
  • mathematical modelling;
  • morphodynamic;
  • complexity trap

Summary

A central aim of evolutionary developmental research is to decipher the relative roles of ecological and molecular interactions in explaining biological diversity. Tetrapod teeth show diverse evolutionary patterns with a repeated increase in dental complexity, especially in response to herbivorous habits. Most extensively in mammals, dentition increases in complexity by elaborating morphology of individual teeth rather than increasing the number of teeth. Even though evolution of mammalian dentition is governed by ecology, recent evidence on molecular signalling suggests that many details and even some general evolutionary tendencies may be instigated by development. Specifically, iterative use of the same developmental modules, the enamel knots, may have facilitated developmentally efficient, or economical, elaboration of tooth shapes without substantially compromising the existing morphology. These kinds of developmentally influenced tendencies may be hypothesized to be typical to many organs and systems showing repeated evolutionary patterns.