Thu, Mar 30, 2017 | updated 08:18 AM IST

Mammals use beautifully crafted teeth to seduce mate: Study

Updated: Nov 11, 2016 15:11 IST

Washington D.C. (USA), Nov. 11 (ANI): A beautiful bleached smile with shining teeth makes you sexy and seductive, finds a study

Mammals, like us, have a set of dentition that are neatly divided into three distinct types of teeth -- the incisors at the front of your mouth, the molars in your cheeks, and the canines, that Dracula-type teeth that separates the molars from the incisors. The origin of this separation can be traced back to 300 million years ago, when our ancestors still looked like sprawling reptiles, the pre-mammalian therapsids.

These creatures, like the gorgonopsians (a group of therapsids), had long, sometimes sabre-like canines that was often interpreted as a deadly hunting device. However, there was a problem. Some herbivorous species that only grazed on plants, like the dicynodonts (herbivorous animals, varying in sizes from a rat to an ox, and like warthogs, had two tusks, that gave them their name, which means "two dog tooth").

So, if not for hunting, what were these impressive sets of pointy teeth for? Defence against predators? Nope! These prehistoric characters used them to seduce the beauties!

Currently living species of sabre-toothed animals, such as the piscivorous walrus or the herbivorous deer-like muntiac, use their canines as a display apparatus, to seduce a mate, or to intimidate their kin. The large sabre-like canine therefore becomes a sexually selected trait.

However, the question now is whether sexual selection was an important phenomenon in mammalian ancestry?

In new research the palaeontologists of the University of the Witwatersrand (Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI) and School of Anatomical Sciences, Johannesburg, South Africa) and their colleagues from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France), used CT and synchrotron radiation scanning to uncover this mystery.

By using X-ray computerised micro-tomographic (microCT) scanning on the mysterious fossil therapsid Choerosaurus dejageri (Therocephalia, Eutheriodontia), a "mammal-like reptile" that lived 259 million years ago and belong to the lineage that gave birth to mammals, the scientists revealed that the Choerosaurus evolved his very peculiar ornamented face under sexual pressure. "Choerosaurus is known by only one, delicate skull. It is unique since it is the only Eutheriodont to have two symmetrical bosses on its maxilla and mandible," says Dr Julien Benoit.

"In this research, we address the possibility that these cranial bosses were either for intra-specific combat or for sexual display".

The thorough CT scan survey revealed that these structures were not pathological, and comparisons with a synchrotron scan of the skull of the monstrous dinocephalian Moschops, also known as the head-butting therapsid, confirmed that the skull and cranial bosses of Choerosaurus were too weak for high energy combat. Additionally, the maxillary boss was richly innervated and highly vascular, which is not compatible for fighting but is more suitable for supporting a colourful and/or sensitive cornified pad, potentially involved in display behaviour.

"The cranial bosses of Choerosaurus are the first evidence of structures dedicated solely to intraspecific, sexual competition (either low energy fight and/or sexual display) in Eutheriodontia, the group directly ancestral to mammals," says Benoit. "Whereas few studies have investigated sexual dimorphism and competition in early therapsids, this fossil shows that sexual competition and the associated complex, ritualised behaviour were indeed an important component of therapsid evolution at the very root of the therapsid clade, as far back in the past as 300 million years, hundreds of millions of years before mammals or the more advanced dinosaurs expressed these behaviours."

Benoit says this finding expends the record of sexually selected traits in pre-mammalian therapsids and suggests that sexual selection may have played a more important role in the origin of mammals than previously thought.

"This reshape our understanding of our deep evolutionary root, particularly that of the canine which likely originated as a display organ."

The study has been published in the journal, Plos One. (ANI)

New Delhi [India], Mar. 30 (ANI): Renowned author Amish Tripathi has often used unconventional ways to engage his readers and fans during the process of bringing his new book out to them.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 29 (ANI): A study finds that preserving and promoting natural amenities - clean air, hiking trails, beaches - and quality of life may give a double shot boost to economic growth important for human capital.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 29 (ANI): DLF Emporio's Design Awards, in their fifth year, honored promising young names in fashion with a glittering awards ceremony.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 29 (ANI): For a longer life, eat higher proportion of carbohydrates - grains, pulses, vegetables, sweet potato - and about 100 grams of protein in middle-age daily to cut the chances of heart disease, cancer and other diseases in old age, suggests a study.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 29 (ANI): Ladies, do not hesitate to put on your sexy, body hugging clothes to office any more.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 29 (ANI): A team of Canadian researchers has found that teenagers, who begin smoking pot as early as 15 or younger, may suffer long-term cognitive impairment, memory loss, physical illnesses and respiratory diseases.

Full Story >>

Drinking tea may prevent you from diabetes

Updated: Mar 29, 2017 12:11 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 29 (ANI): After understanding the health benefits of a cup of tea, a study finds that drinking tea can prevent diabetes.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 29 (ANI): A new research suggests that parents who play Pokemon Go with their kids report a number of side benefits such as including increased exercise, more time spent outdoors and opportunities for family bonding.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 29 (ANI): PyotrIlyich Tchaikovsky's classical ballet 'Swan Lake', one of classical ballet's most beloved pieces, is set to come alive on the Indian stage as NavrasaDuende, a leading production house, announces to collaborate with Moscow-based Royal Russian Ballet and enthral the Indian audience.

Full Story >>

Philadelphia [US], Mar. 28 (ANI): Mural Arts Philadelphia has created thousands of murals over its more than 30-year history, and each one has a unique story, connecting communities through public art. In 2017, Mural Arts has added new opportunities to hear some of those stories first-hand on several tours that visit a wide swath of neighborhoods across the City of Philadelphia.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 28 (ANI): While finding a perfect partner seems like a tough job to many, the fact is, the effort that needs to be put in retaining that partner can be a painstaking process.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 28 (ANI): The 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival lineup is now official, and this year's two-weekend extravaganza at the Empire Polo Club in Indio is sure to be one for the ages, with Radiohead, Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar headlining the performances between April 14 and April 23.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 28 (ANI): In an emphatic show of courage and hope, survivors of acid attack victims recently took to the ramp at a unique fashion show at the India Showcase Week, demolishing stigma and redefining the concept of beauty.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Mar. 28 (ANI): From getting your child ready for school to sorting the daily chores- mornings are super hectic for women, especially the working ones.

Full Story >>

This summer, enjoy sweat-free workout

Updated: Mar 28, 2017 12:41 IST

New Delhi [India], Mar. 28 (ANI): As summer draws close, Reebok has yet again come up with an exciting range of its ActivChill apparel for a more sweat-free workout!

Full Story >>

New Delhi, Mar.28 (ANI): Cuemath, the premier program for 'math excellence' for students in KG to grade 8 organized a prestigious one day event to honour its wide network of Cuemath Teachers in Delhi recently.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 28 (ANI): With progress in technology, people's view towards things change, of course on a positive note.

Full Story >>

London [UK], Mar. 28 (ANI): From our very young age, we're told cheating is wrong and we should all be faithful to our partners.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 28 (ANI): If you have a particular tree nut allergy, then generally you are being asked to avoid every kind of nuts.

Full Story >>