Biological Clocks and the Formation of Human Tooth Enamel
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Tooth enamel contains relics of its formation process, in the form of microstructures, which indicate the incremental way in which it forms. These microstructures, called cross-striations and striae of Retzius, develop as enamel-forming cells called ameloblasts, whcih cyclically deposit enamel on developing teeth in accordance with two different biological clocks. Cross-striations result from a twenty-four hour cycle, called a Circadian rhythm, in the enamel deposition process, while striae of Retzius have a longer periodicity. Unlike other tissues, enamel does not remodel after it forms, leaving those microstructures intact after deposition. Cross-striations and striae of Retzius thus provide evidence of the timing and processes of tooth development, and they indicate how organisms in a lineage differently grow and develop across generations. Researchers have examined those microstructures to investigate human evolution.