Seagull

The Big Beak Theory - the evolution of the human face could be surprising

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 14:08 GMT Jump to Comments

One day human beings may evolve a beak, says the University of Sheffield in a report entitled “The Beak Shall Inherit the Earth”.

Scientists have argued that the current structure of human teeth is “no longer fit for purpose”. With our modern diets and growing elderly population, a limited amount of teeth is hampering us as a species.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have been exploring theories as to how evolution might resolve this problem.

One way human beings might be able to avoid the dentist is to develop beaks. Scientists have been examining the jaws of the pufferfish, which has evolved over millions of years to form a beak. Pufferfish use these to break open the shells of molluscs and crabs.

Beaks are more “robust and practical”, according to Dr Gareth Fraser, who led the research from the University of Sheffield.

Another theory states that, in the future, human beings will develop the ability to endlessly replace their teeth, to have an unlimited supply, not unlike sharks.

Shark’s teeth continuously shed and regrow throughout the shark's lifespan. Their teeth are embedded in the gum but not affixed to the jaw bone, and operate on a conveyer belt–like system, maturing in the back of the mouth and slowly moving towards the front as other teeth are shed.

The cells that allow new teeth to be developed and grown are called the putative stem cells, nicknamed “Tooth Fairy” cells by the scientists that study them. It is thought that future generations may generate these tooth fairy cells, enabling them to replace their own teeth.

“Our research is focused on looking for ways in which we can replicate the way that fish create an endless supply of teeth and bring this capability to humans,” Dr Fraser said.

Dr. Fraser admitted that this transformation isn’t going to happen any time soon, but scientists are working to learn more about tooth fairy cells and the evolution of beaks. Until then, dentists will still get plenty of teeth to pull.

If you enjoyed reading the story, register HERE to receive free daily email alerts on public policy and public sector service delivery. Follow us @TheInfoDaily.

 

Comments

Latest

The involvement of patients in the running of health services was first made a legal requirement in the Health…

The future of the National Health Service came under the spotlight again last week; a report launched by the Health…

Against a backdrop of continued budget restraints, it would be understandable if equipping employees for flexible…

The move to online services has improved the provision of care for residents across Scarborough, opening up the…

Right now, in excess of 150 NHS patients are referred abroad for proton therapy each year. The Department of Health…

British people aren’t saving anywhere near enough, whether it’s for retirement or inevitable rainy…

Six experienced, committed general practitioners talk about retiring early, going abroad, impossible hours, patient…

Promises of a paperless NHS may have been a bold move from Jeremy Hunt, but an approach in Surrey could still…

Healthcare organisations are exploring ways to use wearable devices to simplify, transform and accelerate patient-centric care.

As the journey towards health and social care integration progresses, Colin Henderson explores what lessons can…

The increasing volume of information, data and communications is in danger of drowning public sector employees…

Under constant scrutiny for its public service and spending, the NHS is seeing frequent trailblazing success stories.