Molar


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Definition of Molar

From the elephant glossary Section: elephant anatomy


Closeup of the cheek teeth of a dead juvenile bush elephant
Closeup of the cheek teeth of a dead juvenile bush elephant
Molar replacement
Molar Molar Appearance Molar Loss
I birth 2 years
II birth 6 years
III 1 year 13-15 years
IV 6 years 28 years
V 18 years 43 years
VI 30 years 65+ years



Dentition


The molar Teeth are cheek-teeth with ridges, which are developed for grinding food, hence the name molar, which means "millstone".

Elephants chew with a fore and aft motion of the jaw, grinding the food across the lophs.

The molars of different Species differ considerably, and is one of the most important keys for paleontologists to determine the Species of a fossil, since Teeth are one of the most common findings in excavation sites.

Some references claim that the first three molar Teeth are premolars, and the last three are true molars, but the anterior molars of elephants do not correspond to the premolars of other ungulates, but to the milk-molars!! (Premolars are absent!)

The molar teeths were also an inspiration for the evolutionists to name different Species, Mastodon means "breast-toothed" and Stegodon means "roof-toothed", and Loxodonta means "sloping teeth".

Molar replacement


Elephants normally change their molars six times during their lifetime, when older molar gets worn-out, they get replaced horizontally from new ones. When the last supplement gets worn-out, they die out of starvation. (The "natural" dead-cause of almost all herbivores, which doesnt fall prey to predators.) In some cases, the replacement is difficult, and the molar has to be removed.

Increased daily supplement of branches over several months may solve the problem, otherwise the molar has to be removed by a Veterinarian. The removal of an elephant's molar tooth is always a difficult surgical undertaking, although it has been performed successfully on numerous occasions. In order to avoid such problems, it is recommended to give elephants branches to eat.

African elephant molars African elephant molar:
The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) :
  • Is more adapted to a browsing diet
  • is feeding mainly on branches from trees and bushes
  • Has loxodont (Loxodonta means 'sloping teeth') molars
  • Each molar has a maximum of 10 ridges


Asian elephant molars Asian elephant molar:
The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) :
  • Is more adapted to a grass diet
  • has molars with parallel ridges
  • can have more than 20 ridges per molar


Mammoth molars Mammuthus planifrons and Mammuthus meridionalis had 12 and 14 ridges on their molars, while the Wooly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) had 27 such ridges, probably because of its extreme browsing diet.


Stegodon molars Stegodon molar:
Stegodon airawana molar from Sangiran, Java. Natural History Museumm Vienna, Austria. (Photo © Jutta Kirchner, Vienna Zoo)


Primelephas molars Mastodon molars were low-crowned and fairly small and had three or four prominent transverse ridges of Enamel. Mastodons have fewer ridges on their molar Teeth than elephants and the ridges are also less elevated.


Mastodon molars Mastodon Molar:
Mastodon molars were low-crowned and fairly small and had three or four prominent transverse ridges of Enamel. Mastodons have fewer ridges on their molar Teeth than elephants and the ridges are also less elevated.


Reference list Koehl, Dan, (2021). Molar. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 20 September 2021 at https://www.elephant.se/index.php?id=42. (archived at the Wayback machine)

Links about Molar

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7 elephants with keyword Molar mentioned in the database

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