NOTES ON TOOTH REPLACEMENT IN THE NILE CROCODILE CROCODILUS NILOTICUS

Authors

  • D. F. G. POOLE

    1. Department of Zoology, Makerere, The University College of East Africa, Kampala, Uganda
    Search for more papers by this author
    • *University of Bristol Dental School, Lower Maudlin Street, Bristol 1.


Abstract

The history and replacement of crocodile teeth are described. A new tooth erupts with only a short root which grows downwards into the socket as the pulp cavity in the crown begins to be occluded by the further deposition of dentine. After the root has become fully extended, it is gradually resorbed at its base to make room for an enlarging successional tooth which has been forming on the lingual side of the socket. The successional tooth eventually moves to a position within the partly resorbed functional root and directly under the functional crown. Progressive reduction of the functional root now occurs to accommodate the continuously enlarging successional tooth and, when resorption is largely complete, the functional tooth falls away, allowing the successional tooth, with a short, incomplete root, to take its place. As a result of this successional cycle it is found, within certain limits, that at any given time the form and condition of a functional tooth is related to the size and condition of its successor lying below.

Consideration of various measurements made on a series of twenty-four skulls of different sizes indicates that a regular and continuous replacement of teeth occurs throughout a large part of a crocodile's life. It is estimated that in a crocodile which is thirteen feet long, each tooth is likely to have been replaced forty-five times.

Ancillary