The Phosphatic Mode of Calcification in Ontogeny and Phylogeny of the Integument and Skeleton of Vertebrates

  • Norman E. Kemp


The earliest known fossil vertebrates, the ostracoderms, had already evolved the principal vertebrate hard tissues of calcified cartilage, bone, dentine and enamel (enameloid). These tissues develop with the calcium phosphate mineral hydroxyapatite as the inorganic constituent of their matrices. As suggested by Gans & Northcutt (1983), adoption of this phosphatic mode of mineralization may have resulted from evolution of a new type of head featuring the emergence of neural crest tissue and epidermal placodes as the vertebrate progenitors diverged from protochordate ancestors. Mineral crystallites in the hard tissues undergo nucleation and growth in close association with protein fibrils or tubular sheaths polymerized either from collagen as in the dermal or endoskeletal matrix of scleroblasts in calcified cartilage, bone, dentine and tooth cementum, or from the amelogenins and enamelins of the enameline matrix secreted by ameloblastic epithelial cells.

Development of mineral crystallites has been investigated in electron microscopic studies of the hard tissues of frogs and sharks, aquatic vertebrates considered representative of the vertebrate patterns of mineralization. Thyroxine-treated frog tadpoles were utilized for tracing the progress of deposition of hydroxyapatite crystallites in association with collagen fibrils during development of bone in the femur. Shark jaw endoskeleton and teeth were investigated to elucidate differentiation of calcified cartilage, dentine and enamel. Crystallites of calcified cartilage are small and needle-like similar to those in bone and dentine. The crystallites of enamel develop within tubular sheaths, grow much larger than those of the other hard tissues, and assume the hexagonal shape considered to be characteristic of apatite crystals.


Collagen Fibril Hard Tissue Matrix Vesicle Calcify Cartilage Enamel Matrix 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman E. Kemp
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyThe University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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