Book review – The teeth of non-mammalian vertebrates
THE TEETH OF NON-MAMMALIAN VERTEBRATES
By B. Berkovitz & P. Shellis
Elsevier/Acadenic Press, London, 2016. 354 pp.
ISBN 978-0-12-802850-6 (hard cover)
Teeth are mineralized, hard structures typically present at the mouth, which aid food acquisiton and processing. Teeth were a key evolutionary feature during the early evolution of the vertebrates, being homologous with with odontodes, mineralized strutures present in the dermal skeleton of fossil agnathans and another fish groups.
The authors of the present book, Barry Berkovitz and Peter Shellis, are dentists who published extensively on several topics involving vertebrate teeth since the mid-1970´s and are renowned as being two of the major authorities on the subject.
The present book is a great achievement and fill an important gap in the literature, since there was not a recent broad compilation on the subject available.
The book is divided into 12 chapters: chapter 1 discusses Cyclostomes (Agnatha), chapters 2 and 3 Chondrichthyes, chapter 4 Osteichthyes, chapter 5 Amphibia, chapter 6-8 reptiles, chapter 9 tooth formation, chapter 10 tooth replacemente and dentition ontogeny, chapter 11 dentine and dental pulp, and chapter 12 enameloid and enamel. For each group, information concerning teeth attachment, oral and extraoral structures bearing teeth, teeth shape and patterns of replacement, function, as well as ontogenetical changes in the dentition, are reviewed.
The taxonomical coverage is very comprehensive and somewhat surprisingly, quite even; the highly diverse osteichthyes, although covered in a single chapter, are examined in no less detail than the chondrichthyes, amphibians, and reptiles.
Included are chapters discussing the keratinized tooth-like structures present in agnathans and anuran tadpoles (Chapters 1 and 5), even though they do not consist in true teeth.
One important point that is not conveyed by the title is that the book does not address teeth from fossil taxa, only from extant groups. The book is lavishly illustrated, with more than 581 figures, and fully referenced.
This book will certainly be a very important source of information in the years to come for anyone interested on the diversity, evolution and function of teeth in vertebrates.