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BIOLOGY:
- ANATOMY -
SKULL AND SKELETON: A COMPARISON OF THE THYLACINE AND WOLF DENTITION
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Shown below are diagrams that illustrate the differences in dental anatomy between the thylacine and its often-cited placental analogue, the wolf.  Although there are a number of notable differences in the post-cranial skeleton of these two species, the dentition represents one of the most striking dissimilarities.  As can be seen in the images of the maxillae (upper jaws), the thylacine has 8 upper incisors, whereas the wolf has only 6.  In the mandible (lower jaw), the thylacine and wolf have an equal number of incisors.  Another major difference is the presence of a specialized shearing tooth, the carnassial, in the wolf.  This tooth is a distinguishing characteristic of the wolf and other members of the placental mammal family Carnivora.  Also, note that unlike the wolf, the thylacine lacks large grinding surfaces on its molars.  The wolf has a total of 42 teeth, and the thylacine 46.  All of the photographs on this page are of highly precise resin replicas, cast from natural specimens.
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MAXILLARY COMPARISON
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thylacine and wolf maxillae - image  C. Campbell
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MANDIBULAR COMPARISON
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For those not familiar with dental abbreviations, their meanings are:

i - incisor
C - canine
P - premolar
M - molar

Note the enormous lower carnassial (M1) in the wolf mandible, which has evolved from the first molar.  The thylacine lacks this particular type of specialization.  Instead, all of its post-canine teeth have become adapted for shearing, and have very distinct cutting edges.  You can read further details about the thylacine's dentition here.

thylacine and wolf mandibles - image  C. Campbell
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back to: A Comparison of the Thylacine / Wolf Skull return to the subsection's introduction forward to: Rotating View of the Skull


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