We can understand how well mammal teeth are able to work if we can create 3-D models that simulate how the upper and lower teeth fit together (Evans and Sanson 2006). We can build models of several mammalian tooth forms using the shapes constructed in ‘Ideal teeth’ as starting points.
Below is a detailed model of the carnassial tooth form, found in carnivores, fossil creodonts and marsupials.
The zalambdodont form is found in solenodons, tenrecs and golden moles. There is a basic topographic similarity to symmetrodonts (e.g., Kuehnotherium), pantotheres (e.g., Amphitherium, Peramus), Zalambdalestes, Palaeoryctes and the marsupials Necrolestes and Notoryctes.
The dilambdodont form occurs in shrews, moles, tree shrews, microbats, and extinct groups such as nyctitheriids, Palaeotherium, brontotheres, chalicotheres, Anoplotherium and Pantolambda.
The tribosphenic form is found in primitive mammals such as Aegialodon, Pappotherium, Didelphodus, marsupials, and in a reversed form in the pseudotribosphenic molars of Shuotherium.
The above models are closely based on the simple starting shapes and so have not been greatly modified from them. However, we can design an improved dilambdodont model that incorporates some additional characteristics: anterior component to the dorsolingual occlusal vector; crescentic shape of the upper ectoloph crests; the cusps on the upper molar are different sizes.