Header image of wall of bricks Open menu Close menu


Also ‑odon and ‑odontia.

Teeth; toothed.

Greek odous, odont‑, tooth.

The ending ‑odont appears in adjectives that refer to the type of teeth possessed by animals. Examples are labyrinthodont, having the enamel deeply folded to form a labyrinthine structure; bunodont (Greek bounos, mound), having molar teeth with crowns in the form of rounded or conical cusps; diphyodont (Greek dis, twice, plus phuein, come into being), having two sets of teeth during its development, as humans do.

Since teeth survive better than any other part of the skeleton, many fossil animals have names that describe them in terms of their teeth. Examples ending in ‑odont are cynodont (Greek kuōn, kun‑, dog), a fossil carnivorous reptile of the late Permian and Triassic periods, with dog-like teeth; glyptodont (Greek gluptos, carved), a fossil South American mammal of the Cenozic era with fluted teeth; thecodont (Greek thēkē, case), a fossil reptile of the Triassic period, ancestral to the dinosaurs, whose teeth are fixed in sockets in the jaw.

Words ending in ‑odon have the same sense: mastodon, a large extinct elephant-like mammal of the Miocene to Pleistocene epochs (Greek mastos, breast, because it has nipple-shaped tubercles on the crowns of its molar teeth); iguanodon, a large herbivorous dinosaur of the early to mid Cretaceous period, named thus because its teeth resemble those of the iguana.

A variety of systematic names for animals end in ‑odontia, such as Aplodontia (Greek aplos, simple), the genus containing the mountain beaver; Diprotodontia (Greek dis, twice, plus prōtos, first), the largest order of marsupials that have two large incisor teeth in the lower jaw. See the next entry for another sense of ‑odontia.

Copyright © Michael Quinion 2008–. All rights reserved. Your comments are very welcome.