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Heterodonty and double occlusion in Manidens condorensis: a unique adaptation in an Early Jurassic ornithischian improving masticatory efficiency


New materials of the ornithischian dinosaur Manidens condorensis highlight a strong heterodonty between the upper and lower dentitions and reveal a novel occlusion type previously unreported in herbivorous dinosaurs. The diamond-shaped maxillary teeth have prominent cingular entolophs in a V- to Z-shaped configuration that are absent in dentary teeth. These cingular entolophs bear denticles and serrations with vertical wear that is coplanar with the apical wear facets, supporting their involvement in chewing. The separated apical and basal wear in dentary teeth is consistent with the apical and cingular wear in maxillary teeth, indicating an alternate occlusion, an orthal jaw motion, and shearing interactions between marginal and cingular edges in a double occlusion. Measurements of the length and wear area along the marginal and cingular edges indicate that the latter are functionally equivalent to adding eight teeth to a maxillary toothrow of ten, almost doubling the lengths of cutting edges and the degree of intraoral processing, while maintaining a plesiomorphic skull anatomy, an adaptation to herbivory unique in Ornithischia.

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Dr. Y. Herrera (UNLP), the institution and staff from the Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns (Munich), and the reviewers are thanked.


The Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) financed the travel for M.G.B. to Germany (ID 57130097); fieldwork and research were supported by Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Técnica to D.P. (ANPCyT, PICT 1288 and 0808), Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to O.W.M.R. (DFG, RA1012/9-1), and National Science Fundation to Dr. G. Rougier (NSF, DEB 0946430 and DEB 1068089).

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Correspondence to Marcos G. Becerra.

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Communicated by: Sven Thatje

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Becerra, M.G., Pol, D., Rössner, G.E. et al. Heterodonty and double occlusion in Manidens condorensis: a unique adaptation in an Early Jurassic ornithischian improving masticatory efficiency. Sci Nat 105, 41 (2018).

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  • Manidens condorensis
  • Ornithischia
  • Maxillary dentition
  • Heterodonty
  • Jaw mechanics