Observations on the dental anatomy of piranhas (Characidae) with special reference to tooth structure



A study of the tissues of the teeth and jaws in piranhas, using the scanning electron microscope and various techniques of light microscopy, revealed many dental adaptations related to the specialized feeding habits of these carnivorous fishes. The dentition is primarily sectorial, although some anterior teeth may be used in grasping. The scissor-like rows of teeth are maintained by the specialized pattern of tooth replacement. The bones of the jaws and the tooth attachment support the teeth very firmly. In its structural organization, the enameloid covering the teeth closely resembles that on the sectorial teeth of sharks and is adapted to the probable stress patterns set up in biting.