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Chipped and broken functional teeth are common in modern sharks with serrated tooth shape. Tooth damage consists of splintering, cracking, and flaking near the cusp apex where the enameloid is broken and exposes the osteodentine and orthodentine. Such damage is generally viewed as the result of forces applied during feeding as the cusp apex impacts the skeletal anatomy of prey. Damage seen in serrated functional teeth from sharks Squalicorax kaupi [1] and Squalicorax pristodontus [1] from the late Cretaceous lowermost Navesink Formation of New Jersey resembles that occurring in modern sharks and suggests similar feeding behavior. Tumbling experiments using serrated modern and fossil functional shark teeth, including those of Squalicorax, show that teeth are polished, not cracked or broken, by post-mortem abrasion in lowermost Navesink sediment. This provides further evidence that chipped and broken Squalicorax teeth are feeding-related and not taphonomic in origin. Evolution of rapid tooth replacement in large sharks such as Squalicorax ensured maximum functionality after feeding-related tooth damage occurred. Serrated teeth and rapid tooth replacement in the large sharks of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic afforded them competitive advantages that helped them to achieve their place as apex predators in today’s ocean.


This article was originally published in Geosciences, available at DOI: 10.3390/geosciences2020109

© 2012 by the authors. This article is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (



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