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      Changes in the tooth enamel of early Paleocene mammals allowing increased diet diversity.

      Nature
      Animals, Dental Enamel, ultrastructure, Diet, Fossils, Mammals, physiology, Microscopy, Electron, Scanning, Paleodontology, Paleontology

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          Abstract

          Hunter-Schreger bands (HSB) are seen in teeth that are composed of crossed sets of enamel prisms. They are present in the teeth of man and many other mammals, but absent in most insectivores and multituberculates. It has been suggested that the presence of HSB makes the tooth enamel less likely to split and is associated with chewing ability. We have traced the occurrence of HSB back to the arctonic condylarths of the early Palaeocene (Puercan) age; this must be close to the first appearance of the bands in placental mammals. Our data indicate that the teeth of almost all large mammals since the early Palaeocene have contained these bands, in an orientation that is optimal for limiting the propagation of vertical fractures. The appearance of the bands is associated with the differentiation of herbivores and carnivores from insectivores and our data indicate that their development was critical to the diversification of mammals because it allowed the use of new types of foods.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          3600790
          10.1038/328150a0

          Chemistry
          Animals,Dental Enamel,ultrastructure,Diet,Fossils,Mammals,physiology,Microscopy, Electron, Scanning,Paleodontology,Paleontology

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