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The structure and composition of the teeth and grasping spines of chaetognaths

  • Q. Bone (a1), K. P. Ryan (a1) and A. L. Pulsford (a1)

The teeth and grasping spines of Sagitta are similar in structure, both having a central pulp cavity surrounded by two electron-dense chitinous layers. The cells of the pulp cavity contain microtubules arranged along the long axis. The two chitinous tubes are separated by a less-dense zone crossed by coarse fibrils linking the two. The teeth and spines insert into less electron-dense chitin (presumably flexible) and are moved by processes of anchor cells which pass into the basal chitinous zone. The inner region of the anchor cells is apposed to the connective tissue layer on to which the muscles of the teeth and spines insert. At the base of the pulp cavity, i.e. at the secretory zone where the teeth and spines are formed, the cells of the pulp cavity contain electron-dense granules in which zinc is found; zinc is also present in the inner and outer dense chitin layers at high concentration (0·5–1·0% of the dry wt).

Both spines and teeth are tipped with fibrous cones containing silicon. It is suggested that the zinc associated with the chitin serves to toughen the teeth and spines and render them less liable to fracture, and that the silicon in the tips confers hardness to this vulnerable region.

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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
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