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The Breaking Force Required by Specialized Tooth Morphologies to Crush Hard Prey Items

By Vera Hoang and Andrea Vancil


Teeth are important in the breakdown and digestion of food. They are oftentimes a good indicator of an organism’s fitness and survival. Though many have studied durophagous tooth morphologies and prey preference, no study has aimed to understand how crushing teeth work, and if there are prey-specific specializations. To understand tooth-prey interactions, we made two different aluminum tooth models: pointy and cup- shaped. Then, measured the force required by the teeth to initially break plaster snail and mussel shells produced by a 3-D printer. Assuming that the durophagous predator is able to consume its prey after an initial breakage, our results suggest that pointy teeth are more effective at crushing snail shells. However, neither tooth morphology is more effective in crushing mussel shells.

Topics: Tooth Morphology, Durophagy, Nucella, Mytilus
Year: 2011
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