Opmerkingen over het gebit en de tandwisseling bij olifanten
Grondboor & Hamer , Volume 37 - Issue 1 p. 32- 37
Remarks upon the dentition and shedding of teeth in elephants. The popular belief is that modern elephants shed their teeth horizontally whereas tooth shedding in other mammals is vertical. This is only an apparent contradiction. The first three teeth to develop in the elephant are milk premolars. In mastodonts and even in early true elephants such as Elephas planifrons and Elephas celebensis premolars are cut, replacing the worn milk premolars in the usual fashion. In modern elephants, as the teeth are becoming longer, accompanied by a shortening of the jaws, there are no more than a few teeth in place in the jaws at any given time. When the time has come for the milk premolars to be shed they have already dropped out in front, the available space being taken up by the molars developing behind them. After use, then, the milk premolars are 'up in the air', so to speak, and replacing them in the jaws by premolars has become an impossibility. This is the reason why premolars are wanting in the dentition of modern elephants. The molars, in elephants just as in other mammals, form a continuous series and belong to the same generation as the milk premolars although because of their disproportionate size we do not observe them all in situ at the same time. As we observe successive growth stages the molars seem to push each other forward and thus the unfortunate term horizontal tooth shedding has come into use. However, this is not 'horizontal tooth shedding'; there is no such thing. The dentition of the elephant is not basically different from that in other mammals.
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