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Complex patterns of tooth replacement revealed in the fruit bat (Eidolon helvum)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Early online date22 Jul 2016
Accepted/In press21 Jun 2016
E-pub ahead of print22 Jul 2016


King's Authors


How teeth are replaced during normal growth and development has long been an important question for comparative and developmental anatomy. Non-standard model animals have become increasingly popular in this field due to the fact that the canonical model laboratory mammal, the mouse, develops only one generation of teeth (monophyodonty), whereas the majority of mammals possess two generations of teeth (diphyodonty). Here we used the straw-coloured fruit bat (Eidolon helvum), an Old World megabat, which has two generations of teeth, in order to observe the development and replacement of tooth germs from initiation up to mineralization stages. Our morphological study uses 3D reconstruction of histological sections to uncover differing arrangements of the first and second-generation tooth germs during the process of tooth replacement. We show that both tooth germ generations develop as part of the dental lamina, with the first generation detaching from the lamina, leaving the free edge to give rise to a second generation. This separation was particularly marked at the third premolar locus, where the primary and replacement teeth become positioned side by side, unconnected by a lamina. The position of the replacement tooth, with respect to the primary tooth, varied within the mouth, with replacements forming posterior to or directly lingual to the primary tooth. Development of replacement teeth was arrested at some tooth positions and this appeared to be linked to the timing of tooth initiation and the subsequent rate of development. This study adds an additional species to the growing body of non-model species used in the study of tooth replacement, and offers a new insight into the development of the diphyodont condition.

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