Could Humans One Day Grow Beaks Instead of Teeth?
Do you hate going to the dentist? Well, that semi-annual visit might be a thing of the past…in a few million years. That’s according to Dr. Gareth Fraser, a British biologist at Sheffield University who thinks humans could eventually evolve to have beaks instead of teeth. Fraser compared the theoretical beaks to those not of birds, but rather of pufferfish, which have developed over millions of years beaks made of strong, tooth-like material to crack open shells and eat hard food.
Fraser thinks humans could undergo a similar evolutionary process — that is, our teeth fusing together to form a pointed beak — over the next several million years because a beak is “more robust and practical” and wouldn’t suffer from the same issues humans have with teeth — rotting, chipping, falling out — because unlike humans, who have only two sets of teeth during their lifetime, pufferfish begin life with teeth that then morph into a beak that constantly re-grows itself as it is worn down during everyday wear and tear.
Fraser believes that he has identified the cells that are responsible for this regeneration, which he dubs “tooth fairy cells.” If he can discover how the cells work, it’s theoretically possible scientists can apply the same functionality to humans, allowing us to grow additional teeth as needed. He even foresees being able to specify how attractive the new teeth are, meaning everyone could have a Hollywood smile.
However, Fraser doesn’t see this whole process as a reality for another 50 years or so. Until then, scientists might be able to develop products — creams, gels, ointments — that dentists can apply to damaged or unhealthy teeth to repair them, possibly eliminating the need for fillings.
In the long, long, LONG term is when he foresees evolution overtaking these scientific breakthroughs, leading to beaked humans. This might seem hard to believe, but if humans split from apes 4 to 8 million years ago, couldn’t there be similarly drastic shifts in the next 4 to 8 million years?
(Sources: Daily Mail, Wikipedia)