Episode from the podcastIn Our Time: Science

The Evolution of Teeth

Released Thursday, 11th April 2019
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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss theories about the origins of teeth in vertebrates, and what we can learn from sharks in particular and their ancestors. Great white sharks can produce up to 100,000 teeth in their lifetimes. For humans, it is closer to a mere 50 and most of those have to last from childhood. Looking back half a billion years, though, the ancestors of sharks and humans had no teeth in their mouths at all, nor jaws. They were armoured fish, sucking in their food. The theory is that either their tooth-like scales began to appear in mouths as teeth, or some of their taste buds became harder. If we knew more about that, and why sharks can regenerate their teeth, then we might learn how humans could grow new teeth in later lives.

With

Gareth Fraser
Assistant Professor in Biology at the University of Florida

Zerina Johanson
Merit Researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences at the Natural History Museum

and

Philip Donoghue
Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol

Producer: Simon Tillotson

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Episode Details

Length
49m 15s
Explicit
No

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