Serving in a foraging or self-defense capacity, pristiophorids, pristids, and the extinct sclerorhynchoids independently evolved an elongated rostrum lined with modified dermal denticles called rostral denticles. Isolated rostral denticles of the sclerorhynchoid Ischyrhiza mira are commonly recovered from Late Cretaceous North American marine deposits. Although the external morphology has been thoroughly presented in the literature, very little is known about the histological composition and organization of these curious structures. Using acid-etching techniques and scanning electron microscopy, we show that the microstructure of I. mira rostral denticles are considerably more complex than that of previously described dermal denticles situated elsewhere on the body. The apical cap consists of outer single crystallite enameloid (SCE) and inner bundled crystallite enameloid (BCE) overlying a region of orthodentine. The BCE has distinct parallel bundled enameloid (PBE), tangled bundled enameloid (TBE), and radial bundled enameloid (RBE) components. Additionally, the cutting edge of the rostral denticle is produced by a superficial layer of SCE and a deeper ridges/cutting edge layer (RCEL) of the BCE. The highly organized enameloid observed in the rostral denticles of this batomorph resembles that of the multifaceted tissue architecture observed in the oral teeth of selachimorphs and demonstrates that dermal scales have the capacity to evolve histologically similar complex tooth-like structures both inside and outside the oropharyngeal cavity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology