Armed to the Teeth
Today, we use our teeth to chew and break down food, but millions of years ago, teeth were not individual structures that we are familiar with today. The earliest evidence of teeth came from an extinct, heavily armoured fish called Romundina stellina 400 million years ago.The fish’s teeth resembled rough bumpy plates that functioned like sandpaper, crushing and shredding food.
Fast forward 400 million years and we have a wide diversity of animals that have teeth much more interesting than our own. From a squid’s bird-like beak to megalodon’s giant, razor-sharp teeth, explore fascinating facts about the teeth.
Fascinating Facts About Teeth
- While not as precise as fingerprints, teeth can be used to determine exact age and the ethnicity of a person by analysing the size and dental features.
- Humans produce only 2 sets of teeth during a lifetime, sharks, on the other hand, produce hundreds of sets of teeth during its lifetime.
- Megalodon was the largest shark to have ever lived, its average teeth size is between 4 to 5 inches. Even larger specimens have been discovered with teeth measuring over 7 inches in length.
- Dolphin teeth have concentric rings similar to growth rings found in trees. This enables age identification of dolphins by analysing the cross section of its teeth.
- The sharpest set of teeth in the animal kingdom belonged to an extinct eel-like vertebrate that roamed the earth 500 million years ago. Their teeth tapered down to 1/12 the width of a human hair. This means they can chomp through large amounts of flesh with minimal effort.
- Narwhals are whales that found in the Arctic, they have a long tusk that projects from their face. However, these tusks are actually overgrown teeth.
- Elephant tusks are essentially long incisors.
- The largest canines of any land animal belong to the hippopotamus. However, they use these canines only for battle or to fend off predators.
- The Goosander is a large duck common to Europe, parts of Asia, and North America. This animal has tiny, sharp serrations along its beak that look like teeth. It uses these teeth to capture fish.
- The giant squid has a beak that can shear and shred its prey. Inside this beak is a tongue like-organ called the radula that is covered with rows of small, sharp teeth. This structure helps the squid to rip bite-sized into its mouth.
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