The marginal dentition of the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri (Osteichthyes: Dipnoi)


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The dentary, a component of the transient marginal dentition found in the mandible of juveniles of the living Australian lungfish Neoceratodus forsteri, is a tooth plate exactly comparable to the tooth plates with radiating ridges that make up the marginal dentitions of Devonian dipnoans like Andreyevichthys, Orlovichthys and Ichnomylax. In N. forsteri, the dentary consists of two ridges, set almost in line with each other, and growing by the addition of cusps, of increasing sizes, to the extremity of each ridge. It is therefore equivalent to two ridges of a more normal tooth plate with radiating ridges. Despite its appearance, as a long row of sharp cusps ankylosed to a slender bone, and its position, embedded in soft tissue above the anterolabial margin of Meckel's cartilage, it is a tooth plate and is not comparable to the marginal dentitions of other vertebrates. Structure and development of the transient marginal dentition of this lungfish is another indication that dipnoans may not be the sister group of tetrapods.