Have you ever wondered how many teeth a shark has? Or what the biggest tooth in the world looks like? If so, today’s post is for you–or you can use it to teach your kids!
Knowing facts about animal teeth can help us learn more about our own teeth—and inspire us to take care of them! Check out these fun facts about animal teeth that make us appreciate the sets we have.
7 Wild Tooth Facts
- Dolphins Did you know you can tell a dolphin’s age by counting the rings in one tooth? Each year a dolphin lives, a layer of bone grows on each tooth. Unlike human teeth, dolphin teeth never fall out—their first set is permanent. And they don’t use their teeth for chewing; only as defense! They swallow their food whole to prevent bones and scales from catching in their throats.
- Lions Lions are born with mouths as empty as humans, but their first teeth (called “milk teeth”) start to appear at 3 weeks old. In spite of this, lion mothers don’t wean the cubs until 2 or 3 months old. They acquire 30 teeth in their lifetimes.
- Giraffes If you’ve ever wondered if there are animals out there with the same number of teeth as humans, look no further. Giraffes have 32 teeth too! They use their long tongues to pull leaves into their mouths before chewing.
- Hippopotamuses Adult hippos have 36 teeth…but because some hippos keep their milk teeth long into adulthood, hippos can have as many as 40 teeth at one time. Their largest teeth are called tusks, formally called canines. Can you imagine if human canines were that long?
- Alligators and crocodiles Both alligators and crocodiles are in the same animal family, referred to as “crocodilians.” All crocodilians have teeth that replace themselves when they fall out, so both alligators and crocodiles often have as many as 3,000 teeth in their lifetimes. And their teeth are actually hollow.
- Elephants Elephant tusks are, like in hippos, actually teeth. They are enlarged incisors. Tusks never stop growing, so they can get very long. Since elephants have been hunted for ivory, the length of tusks is diminishing as the elephants with the “big tusk gene” are killed more frequently.
- Sharks Shark teeth are similar to crocodilian teeth in that they grow teeth back right after one falls out. However, sharks grow far more teeth in their lifetimes—they may have up to 20,000 teeth by the time they die! The image at the bottom of this informative web page shows us that each tooth root is actually a storage cavity from which teeth can spin into place when one falls out.
Do you have any fun facts?
Knowing facts about animal teeth—especially the animals that frighten us—can help us understand them better. For example, knowing that tusks are really just long canine teeth makes hippos and elephants seem a little less foreign. Check out this list of even more animals and their teeth facts for more facts to make you smile—learn about horses, narwhales, even snails.
Do you know some facts we didn’t include here? What about your dog or cat’s teeth? Share in the comment box below some of your own facts so we can make this post even more rewarding for readers.