African elephant molars
The african elephant (Loxodonta africana) :
Asian elephant molarsThe asian elephant (Elephas maximus) :
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.
Stegodon was an ancestors of todays elephants, and developed larger molars, also with transverse enamel ridges.
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.
The molar teeth are cheekteeth 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 key´s 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 abcent!)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".
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 herbivoures, 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, othervise the molar has to be removed by a Vet. The removal of an elephant's molar tooth is always a difficult surgical undertaking, although it has been performed successfully on numerous occasions
|Molar||Molar Appearance||Molar Loss|
|III||1 year||13-15 years|
|IV||6 years||28 years|
|V||18 years||43 years|
|VI||30 years||65+ years|