Scanning Microscopy


The enamel of an incisor and a premolar of Yalkaparidon coheni was examined by scanning electron microscopy in fractured and in sectioned, polished surfaces. The enamel of both teeth demonstrated: complete, ovoid and horse-shoe shaped prisms in a Pattern 2 arrangement; a simple parallel prism course; and, enamel tubules in abundance in the premolar but restricted to the innermost enamel in the incisor. Overall, the enamel ultrastructure supports the marsupial affiliation proposed for Yalkaparidon coheni but does not unambiguously ally it with any other order of marsupials.

The observation of a significant ultrastructural difference between the anterior and posterior teeth of a marsupial emphasizes the need to sample both if available. In pursuing this, we report here also the lack of tubules in the anterior teeth of the extant Tarsipes rostratus. This together with a similar absence of typical marsupial tubules from the incisor of the extinct Yalkaparidon coheni, would suggest that the wombat is not the only surviving marsupial to have experimented so extensively with this particular structural feature. It is likely that further study will demonstrate an unexpected and relative lack of tubules in the incisor enamel of other fossil Australian marsupials.

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