AskDefine | Define denticle

Dictionary Definition

denticle n : small pointed ridge on the exoskeleton of an arthropod

Extensive Definition

Denticles are body surface structures found on some fish and insects.
Denticles or placoid scales are small outgrowths which cover the skin of many cartilaginous fish including sharks. They are similar in structure to teeth, and teeth may have evolved from denticle-like structures in primitive fish. The placoid scales in sharks are formed of dentine with dermal papillae located in the core. These scales develop from the dermal layer of the skin, which is in contrast to the epidermal development seen the in the elasmoid scales of tetrapods. The shape of denticle varies from species to species and can be used in identification.
Shark skin is covered in denticles, and can therefore be as rough as sandpaper; some societies have in fact used it as such for many years (see Oroshigane). Most point backward, so stroking a shark from head to tail produces a smooth feeling. However, stroking the skin in the opposite direction reveals the rough texture. An exception is the Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus), which is unique amongst sharks in having denticles which point every which way, rather than uniformly towards the tail. Sharks have been observed to use their skin to inflict wounds on prey.
Studies have found that the denticles create tiny vortices that reduce drag to make swimming more efficient. Denticles also allow sharks to swim silently compared to other fish that generate considerable noise when they play the water.
In Japan, traditional sword-makers used shark-skin for the hand-grips of swords, to make them less likely to slip in the hand.


External links

denticle in German: Placoidschuppe
denticle in Spanish: Dentículo
denticle in Icelandic: Skráptennur

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

baby tooth, bicuspid, bucktooth, canine, crown, cuspid, cutter, deciduous tooth, dent, denticulation, dentil, dentition, dogtooth, eyetooth, fang, fore tooth, gagtooth, gang tooth, gold tooth, grinder, incisor, milk tooth, molar, peg, permanent tooth, pivot tooth, premolar, scrivello, snag, snaggletooth, tooth, tush, tusk, wisdom tooth
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