King's College London

Research portal

Evolution of the Dentition in Holocephalans (Chondrichthyes) Through Tissue Disparity: volution of the Dentition in Holocephalans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Zerina Johanson, Charlie Underwood

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdoi:10.1093/icba/icaa093
Pages (from-to)630-643
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Published10 Sep 2020

King's Authors


The Holocephali is a major group of chondrichthyan fishes, the sister taxon to the sharks and rays (Elasmobranchii). However, the dentition of extant holocephalans is very different from that of the elasmobranchs, lacking individual tooth renewal, but comprising dental plates made entirely of self-renewing dentine. This renewal of all tissues occurs at the postero-lingual plate surface, as a function of their statodont condition. The fossil record of the holocephalans illuminates multiple different trends in the dentition, including shark-like teeth through to those with dentitions completely lacking individual teeth. Different taxa illustrate developmental retention of teeth but with fusion in their serial development. Dentine of different varieties comprises these teeth and composite dental plates, whose histology includes vascularized tubes within coronal dentine, merging with basal trabecular dentine. In this coronal vascularized dentine, extensive hypermineralization forms a wear resistant tissue transformed into a variety of morphologies. Through evolution, hypermineralized dentine becomes enclosed within the trabecular dentine, and specialized by reduction into specific zones within a composite dental plate, with these increasing in morphological disparity, all reflecting loss of defined teeth but retention of dentine production from the inherited developmental package.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454