Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Having or noting a dentition like that of shrews. This dentition is unique in some respects. It consists of the four kinds of teeth usual among diphyodont mammals, but no canines are specialized as such, and the median pair of incisors both above and below are remarkable in presenting two or more cusps, besides being of great size. These peculiarities, together with the speedy and complete obliteration of the maxillopremaxillary suture, have caused the median incisors alone to be so named, and have occasioned great uncertainty in the dental formulæ of the several genera of shrews. Determination of the position of the suture has shown, however, that several other pairs of teeth besides the specialized median upper pair are inserted iu the premaxillary, and are therefore incisors; that the foremost pair of maxillary teeth (technically canines) are never specialized, and always small, and that these are followed by one or two pairs of premolars, constantly succeeded by three pairs of true molars. The constancy in number of the under teeth (twelve, with some anomalous exceptions) is also remark-able, and the total variation is only from twenty-six to thirty-two among all the genera. The eight upper incisors of several genera are a number unique among placental mammals; and the soricident dentition is, on the whole, in proportion to the size of the animals, the most formidable known among mammals, of greater relative power than that of any carnivore. See
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