From the fanged water deer to the fantastic and unreal looking narwhal, these members of the animal kingdom have truly unique and noteworthy teeth. Most of these unusual features are designed to be useful, either for defense, hunting prey or in simply to impress the ladies of the species.
Chinese Water Deer
This petite member of the deer family has some serious fangs! He’s not from Transylvania, though; you’ll only find this unusual species in parts of Asia. The Chinese water deer’s fangs are actually tusks, and take the place of antlers on the male of the species. Like most other male tusked animals, this tiny deer uses his fangs to fight with foes during mating season and to impress the ladies, too.
This fresh water fish, cousin to the cow-devouring piranha can be found in bodies of water around the world, including the US. The unusual denture eerily mimics human teeth – and packs a powerful bite. These fish are considered good for aquariums because they are primarily vegetarian and won’t eat the other, smaller fish in a tank. Their powerful jaw is designed to crack nuts and chew through ropey vegetation can also be harmful to human fingers, so handle these oversized fish with care.
As if being an apex predator with multiple rows of teeth and prey-finding sonar wasn’t enough, the ghost shark also has an amazing tooth and jaw setup. While the jaw is normally held close to the head, it can extend quickly to snag prey; this protruding jaw can be seen in action in rare video footage of a ghost shark pursuing prey. This shy, deep water fish has been called a living fossil, thanks to its oddly primitive body and jaw.
This unusual ocean mammal looks like a whale crossed with a unicorn – and despite its mythical looks, it is a real animal. The narwhal is a small, toothed whale related to the beluga whale; about 50,000 narwhals swim in the cold waters of the arctic region. The elongated horn isn’t a horn at all; it’s actually an oversized (very oversized) incisor. Occasionally, narwhals can have two oversized horns, but most feature a single, long tooth protruding from the front of the head like a unicorn’s horn.
This European waterfowl looks like a regular duck – until you take a closer look at his bill! Each Goosander Duck has a row of small, sharp saw like teeth along the edges of its bill; these teeth are used to efficiently trap and kill small fish. As a predator, the serrated jaw gives this duck a distinct advantage over its smooth beaked counterparts and thrives in lakes and rivers in the UK and northern Europe.
This deep sea dweller lives in darkness – so its survival depends on bioluminescence and an amazing set of teeth. The prehistoric looking Dragonfish can produce a bobbing bit of dazzling light to tempt passing fish; once a fish wanders into his territory, the dragon fish’s impressive teeth make quick work of his prey. Notable not only for their sheer size and fanglike shape, the Dragonfish can actually grow teeth on its tongue, so once prey is caught, it has no chance of escaping the jaw of this modem day monster.
These slimy mollusks have radulae in place of teeth – small, ribbon shaped organs aligned on the tongue and used to grind and crush food. Like everything the snail does, the chewing process is slow, and the teeth down so much as chew food as grind it into powered overtime. Radula won’t fall out, but can wear down over time and be replaced by newer versions.
These popular sea-dwelling mammals use their cone shaped teeth to rip apart prey, which they then swallow whole. While individuals may vary, most adults have an average of 250 teeth; these unusual cone shaped teeth are sharp and can be used for defense as well as predation. While the dolphin’s teeth have a distinctly unusual shape, they also thicken with age as more enamel is added each passing year. You can tell the age of a tree by counting the rings on a cross section; scientists can tell the age of a dolphin the same way simply by examining the teeth.
Humans lose their initial baby teeth as they grow – the second set, considered the adult teeth are the permanent teeth. Elephants differ from humans in more ways than one – including the teeth; elephants constantly lose and replace teeth throughout their long lives. Flat and designed for chewing the massive amounts of vegetation an elephant consumes each day; these giant teeth are inside the mouth. The elephant’s massive incisors are seen as tusks on the outside of the body and used for defense, fighting and impressing other elephants.
While humans may not have the impressive number or variety of teeth found in the animal kingdom, every person is unique – and your dental care should be too. Patient centered, caring dentistry is a must if you want to care for –and keep—your own unique set of chompers!More