We all know that animals have teeth, just like us. Animal teeth may be different from ours, but they serve the same purpose: to tear or chew our food. But do creatures that live in the ocean have teeth, too?
How Do These Animal Teeth Differ From Human Teeth?
Whales and Sharks
Currently, there are over 60 species of whale. They are separated into two different categories: toothed and baleen. This means some do have teeth!
Those that do are born with their teeth; their teeth do not grow in like a human’s. Some whales have only one or two, such as the narwhal, while others have over 200. And, just because they have teeth, it doesn’t mean they chew their food! Many use their teeth for attacks, or to capture their food. Some do use them to tear their food into smaller chunks to make it easier to swallow whole.
Dolphins and porpoise fall into the “toothed” category. Sharks, however, are completely different.
Unlike the teeth of many other creatures, including humans, shark teeth aren’t actually embedded into their jaws by a root. Instead, they are made to fall out, since they will often get stuck in their prey. In fact, sharks often lose one a week! New teeth, which have already grown, are lined up in little rows behind the current ones. When a tooth is lost or falls out, the next one in line is up and ready to go within a day or two.
Some fish do actually have teeth, and of the ones that do, a few are actually quite dangerous, even to humans, such as bluefish, barracudas, and piranhas. Others have only chompers in the back of their throats, so as to grind up their food before digestion.
Turtles actually do not have teeth. Instead, they have what is referred to as beaks, which they use to grab, hold onto, and cut up food. Some turtles do have sharp ridges in their beaks that can act like teeth, but they do not have any in their jaws.
When born, they do have a single tooth, but it is used to break out of their egg, and is lost pretty quickly after they have hatched.
Even though turtles lack teeth, it does not mean they are harmless if they bite someone. They have incredible power in their jaws, and their beaks can be razor sharp.
Of course, birds are not sea creatures. However, many do feed on ocean creatures, spending most of their own lives on the water.
As many know, though, birds do not have teeth. They swallow food whole, gulping it down after catching it in their talons or beaks. Studies have been mentioned, however, that long ago, birds actually did have teeth.
Other Sea Creatures
In addition to the above, other sea creatures do have teeth as well, some of which you might not have known about.
- Northern Elephant Seal
- Purple Sea Urchin
- Some squids
- Some eels
- Sea Lamprey
- Bobbit Worm
There are even more, too many to list, but these are the most well known species that have teeth.
Animal Teeth Vs. Human Teeth
There may be many differences between our teeth and that of an animal, but one thing remains the same: tooth decay can happen to anyone. Thankfully, we are able to go to regular dental checkups and cleanings to prevent the spread of that decay, as well as ensure gum disease and other oral issues don’t happen. Be sure to maintain good oral health at home as well, to keep that healthy smile!