, Volume 138, Issue 1, pp 127–136 | Cite as

Comparative investigation into the morphology of oral papillae and denticles of four species of lamnid and sphyrnid sharks

  • Bianca de Sousa RangelEmail author
  • Thierry Salmon
  • Aline Nayara Poscai
  • José Roberto KfouryJr
  • Rose Eli Grassi Rici
Original paper


The microstructures of the oral cavity in sharks have received relatively little study, despite their potential functional importance for gustation, feeding, and ventilation. Accordingly, here we conducted a preliminary comparative investigation into the structure and organization of oral papillae and denticles found on the ventral surface of the oral cavity in four species of shark (bigeye thresher, shortfin mako, scalloped hammerhead, and smooth hammerhead). Despite a limited sample size, differences in complexity and ornamentation of oral papillae and denticles were found across the four species. The scalloped hammerhead shark exhibited the largest oral papillae compared to the bigeye thresher and the shortfin mako. The most complex oral denticles, in terms of number of ridges and microstructures, were found in the scalloped hammerhead, followed by the bigeye thresher, smooth hammerhead and shortfin mako. For smooth hammerheads, in which samples were available from both juveniles and adults, differences in denticle microstructures were found suggesting possible ontogenetic variations. These results suggest that shape, size and arrangement of oral papillae and denticles may be related to ecology and phylogeny of the species studied. Based on these emerging patterns we discuss several plausible hypotheses relating to the function of these structures for consideration in future studies.


Ecomorphology Gustation RAM ventilation Apex predators Feeding ecology 



We would like to thank FAPESP for the Master and PhD’s scholarship to B. S. Rangel (FAPESP 2016/09095-2 and 2017/25273-0). We also would like to thank Dr. Neil Hammerschlag for all help and guidance during the writing and review of this manuscript. Dr Carla Atkinson for sharing papers and Dr. Natascha Wosnick for English translation and review in the early stages. Thank you to the editor and reviewers whose feedback helped strengthen the manuscript. The authors have no conflict of interest to report.

Author Contributions

BSR, TS, ANP and REGR contributed to designing, writing and approving the final version of the manuscript. TS and JRKJ contributed to samples collection. BSR, ANP, and REGR contributed to the acquisition and analysis of the data. All of the authors contributed to the interpretation of the data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Fisiologia, Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Cirurgia da Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia da Universidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratório de Pesquisa em Elasmobrânquios da Universidade Estadual Paulista Julio de Mesquita FilhoSão VicenteBrazil
  4. 4.Central de Facilidades à Pesquisa da Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia da Universidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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