The effectiveness of durophagous tooth morphologies when crushing Mytilus and Nucella shells
Teeth are the interface between an organism and its prey, and can be used to infer an organism’s diet. However, little is known the interactions between tooth morphology and prey items in durophagous systems. To begin to investigate these interactions, we tested the force required by two tooth morphologies, one cupped and one pointed, to break model snail and mussel shells. We believed that the cupped tooth would best crush the snail shell, and the pointed tooth would best break the mussel shell. The pointed tooth was found to crush the snail shell at a lower force, while for the mussel shells there was no difference in crushing forces between tooth morphologies. Further study is needed to fully appreciate the interactions between tooth and prey morphologies, especially to be able to accurately predict an organisms’ diet based on tooth shape.