Pearly whites

Focus-Science and Technology - - Megapixel -

WHEN MOST AN­I­MALS bare their teeth, you’re pre­sented with a mouth filled with white gnash­ers. But only some of a thorn­back ray’s teeth are present in its mouth – the vast ma­jor­ity of them are found on its skin.

Thorn­back rays are typ­i­cally found off the coasts of Europe and western Africa. Like sharks, the rays are cov­ered in der­mal den­ti­cles, or ‘skin teeth’, that en­able them to swim more ef­fi­ciently. It was re­search into the dif­fer­ences be­tween the re­newal mech­a­nisms of der­mal den­ti­cles on rays and sharks that led to the cre­ation of this strik­ing im­age, which was cre­ated with an X-ray mi­cro-CT scan. The colours in the pic­ture, taken by Dan Sykes, re­late to the den­sity of the ma­te­ri­als that make up the ray’s body. High-den­sity parts, such as the skele­ton and teeth, show up white. Mus­cle and con­nec­tive tis­sue, which are low den­sity, ap­pear or­ange.

The im­ages over th­ese six pages are part of the Royal Pho­to­graphic So­ci­ety’s In­ter­na­tional Im­ages for Science com­pe­ti­tion, spon­sored by

You can see all the pho­to­graphs at

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