Plicidentine in the oral fangs of parrotfish (Scarinae, Labriformes) - Université de Perpignan Via Domitia Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Anatomy Year : 2022

Plicidentine in the oral fangs of parrotfish (Scarinae, Labriformes)


Parrotfish play important ecological roles in coral reef and seagrass communities across the globe. Their dentition is a fascinating object of study from an anatomical, functional and evolutionary point of view. Several species maintained non-interlocked dentition and browse on fleshy algae, while others evolved a characteristic beak-like structure made of a mass of coalesced teeth that they use to scrape or excavate food off hard limestone substrates. While parrotfish use their highly specialized marginal teeth to procure their food, they can also develop a series of large fangs that protrude from the upper jaw, and more rarely from the lower jaw. These peculiar fangs do not participate in the marginal dentition and their function remains unclear. Here we describe the morphology of these fangs and their developmental relationship to the rest of the oral dentition in the marbled parrotfish (Leptoscarus vaigiensis), the star-eye parrotfish (Calotomus carolinus), and the palenose parrotfish (Scarus psittacus). Through microtomographic and histological analyses, we show that some of these fangs display loosely folded plicidentine along their bases, a feature that has never been reported in parrotfish. Plicidentine is absent from the marginal teeth and is therefore exclusive to the fangs. Parrotfish fangs develop a particular type of simplexodont plicidentine with a pulpal infilling of alveolar bone at later stages of dental ontogeny. The occurrence of plicidentine and evidence of extensive tooth wear, and even breakage, lead us to conclude that the fangs undergo frequent mechanical stress, despite not being used to acquire food. This strong mechanical stress undergone by fangs could be linked either to forced contact with congeners or with the limestone substrate during feeding. Finally, we hypothesize that the presence of plicidentine in parrotfish is not derived from a labrid ancestor, but is probably a recently evolved trait in some parrotfish taxa, which may even have evolved convergently within this subfamily.


Animal biology

Dates and versions

hal-03839992 , version 1 (04-11-2022)



Jérémie Viviani, Aaron Leblanc, Vahine Rurua, Teiva Mou, Vetea Liao, et al.. Plicidentine in the oral fangs of parrotfish (Scarinae, Labriformes). Journal of Anatomy, 2022, 241 (3), pp.601-615. ⟨10.1111/joa.13673⟩. ⟨hal-03839992⟩
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