That image above shows the jaws of a conodont, a 250-million-year-old eel-like creature. Researchers are studying it in hopes of finding out more on how jaws might have evolved, which apparently is still sort of an enigma.
The mouths that emerged might look monstrous by our standards. Apparently, most conodonts had two upper lips that each possessed a long, pointed, fang-like tooth. They also had a “tongue” of sorts that possessed a complicated set of spiny or comb-like teeth, an organ connected by pulley-like cartilage to two sets of muscles. In addition, its pharynx, or back of the throat, had two or more pairs of robust, sometimes molar-like, “teeth.”
To eat, the creatures likely used their lips and “tongue” to grasp food. The “teeth” in their pharynxes then crushed or sliced up their meals, explained researcher Nicolas Goudemand, a paleontologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.
Story: Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience | Photo: Nicolas Goudemand