The discovery of an extinct reptile species has shed light on the origins of human teeth.



Researchers at the University of Bristol have discovered the Shashajaia – one of the most primitive members of a group called the Sphenacodontoidea which eventually evolved into mammals.

The findings, which have been published in Royal Society Open Science, show that the evolutionary adaptation laid the foundations for the incisor, canine and molar that all mammals, including humans, have today.

The teeth are remarkable for the creature's age and anatomy and possess a very unique set of teeth that set it apart from other animals of the time.

Dr. Suresh Singh of the School of Earth Sciences explained: "The teeth show clear differentiation in shape between the front and back of the jaw, organised into distinct regions.

"This is the basic precursor of what mammals have today – incisors and canines up front, with molars in the back. This is the oldest record of such teeth in our evolutionary tree."