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Ecological signal in the size and shape of marine amniote teeth – 3D models and landmarks

Cite this dataset

Fischer, Valentin et al. (2022). Ecological signal in the size and shape of marine amniote teeth – 3D models and landmarks [Dataset]. Dryad.


Amniotes have been a major component of marine trophic chains from the beginning of the Triassic to present day, with hundreds of species. However, inferences of their (palaeo)ecology have mostly been qualitative, making it difficult to track how dietary niches have changed through time and across clades. Here, we tackle this issue by applying a novel geometric morphometric protocol to 3D models of tooth crowns across a wide range of raptorial marine amniotes. Our results highlight the phenomenon of dental simplification and widespread convergence in marine amniotes, implying strong functional constraints which limit the range of tooth crown morphologies. Importantly, we quantitatively demonstrate that tooth crown form (shape plus size) is strongly associated with diet, whereas crown surface complexity is not. The maximal range of tooth shapes in both mammals and reptiles is seen in medium-sized taxa; large crowns are simple and restricted to a fraction of the morphospace. We recognise four principle raptorial guilds within toothed marine amniotes (durophages, generalists, meat cutters, and flesh piercers). Moreover, even though all these feeding guilds have been convergently colonised over the last 200 million years, a series of dental morphologies are unique to the Mesozoic period, probably reflecting a distinct ecosystem structure.


3D models of tooth crowns from high-precision surface scanners. See article and supplementary information for further details. 

Usage notes

All freeware: R, meshlab.


Fund for Scientific Research, Award: MIS F.4511.19