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Megalodon teeth had built-in toothpaste

Posted on Monday, 20 July, 2015 | Comment icon 12 comments

Megalodon was a force to be reckoned with. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 Karen Carr
The largest shark to ever live was able to eat whatever it wanted without having to worry about cavities.
The gargantuan carnivore, which grew up to 66ft long and would have dwarfed even the monster shark in the movie 'Jaws', possessed teeth quite unlike those of any current living animal.

While the teeth of modern sharks are known to feature a flouride-coated surface, Megalodon and many other prehistoric predators appeared to have teeth comprised of flouride both inside and out.

"You might say that they used ‘built-in toothpaste,’" said senior study author Matthias Epple.

The discovery was made by analyzing the composition and microstructure of the teeth in both modern sharks and in two extinct prehistoric species. What scientists found was that this unique flouride-based composition had been present in carnivores for over 100 million years.

It isn't clear exactly what prompted the change from prehistoric shark teeth to those of modern sharks but scientists believe that it may have had something to do with fluorapatite, the mineral associated with flouride, which might have been more common in the ocean millions of years ago.

"Fluoride is not very common in seawater, (so) it is difficult for animals to collect fluoride, especially for a revolving jaw in sharks where the teeth are replaced every few weeks or months," said Epple.

With its huge size and voracious appetite Megalodon was one of the most fearsome predators ever to exist on Earth and roamed the prehistoric seas until its extinction around two million years ago.

Source: Discovery News | Comments (12)

Tags: Megalodon, Shark

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by third_eye on 20 July, 2015, 15:41
Someone patent Megalodon Toothpaste quick !!! ~ i do wonder where megalodon got their fluoride ? ~
Comment icon #4 Posted by Eldorado on 20 July, 2015, 17:13
Megalodon - The Colgate Smile Shark!
Comment icon #5 Posted by Harry_Dresden on 20 July, 2015, 20:21
A little plaque never killed anyone...
Comment icon #6 Posted by BeastieRunner on 20 July, 2015, 20:32
It makes a lot of sense, evolutionarily speaking. Gotta protect what got you into the game!
Comment icon #7 Posted by Infernal Gnu on 21 July, 2015, 2:16
Damn, so Megalodon had more highly evolved teeth than we do, and chimps have more highly evolved hands. What next?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Nnicolette on 21 July, 2015, 2:44
Just because coating your teeth in flouride is a good thing it doesn't mean ingesting it is safe leonardo.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Kokopelli on 27 July, 2015, 4:08
Seems like this would have been retained by natural selection. Wouldn't every animal (humans included) benefit from teeth coated in fluoride?
Comment icon #10 Posted by grandfunkrailroad on 29 July, 2015, 19:33
Instant aquafresh
Comment icon #11 Posted by Anomalocaris on 29 July, 2015, 20:17
Perhaps it serves to combat dental infections. I can already imagine pieces of rotting meat stuck between the teeth of the shark. Plus, the animal needed strong teeth to attack whales. Although still curious, since the animal could replace its old set of teeth with new ones.
Comment icon #12 Posted by third_eye on 30 July, 2015, 6:11
~ ~ The cookiecutter shark regularly replaces its teeth like other sharks, but sheds its lower teeth in entire rows rather than one at a time. A cookiecutter shark 14 cm (5.5 in) long has been calculated to have shed 15 sets of lower teeth by the time it is 50 cm (20 in) long, totaling 435–465 teeth.[11] This represents a significant investment of resources and is probably why the shark swallows its old sets of teeth, so that it can recycle the calcium content.[6] Unlike other sharks, the retina of the cookiecutter shark has ganglion cells concentrated in a concentric area rather than in a hor... [More]

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