The animal kingdom is full of intriguing oddities. Think of a funky new plume or a strange quirk. Take the pigmy short-horned lizard, for instance. It can shoot blood out its eyes to ward off predators. Or the snub-nosed monkey, which always sneezes to expel the rainwater from its nose. But did you know that this uniqueness extends to their teeth? These animal teeth facts can sure attest to it.
- Tusks are actually teeth
Here’s one fact your kid might love. Ever wondered why some animals have tusks? Or why they grow them? The answer is simple: tusks are elongated front teeth. Here’s another fun fact: they’re long teeth than continue growing.
In humans, teeth stop growing at a certain point. After all, larger teeth aren’t necessary for a human mouth. In animals that grow tusks, however, these elongated teeth play a role in their daily lifestyle. Whether it’s for foraging food or protection, a tusk serves as a multipurpose tool for those who wield them.
- Horse teeth continue to grow throughout their lifetime
Speaking of teeth that continue growing, a horse’s teeth fall under this category. Horses are herbivores that mostly eat grass and hay. One could then imagine that this continuous mastication plays a number on their teeth.
Fortunately, because a horse continually grows their teeth, whatever enamel is ground down and eroded is replaced. The same goes for animals with similar eating habits, such as rodents and zebras.
- Sharks don’t get cavities
Shark teeth are perhaps one of the most well-known sets in the animal kingdom, often being the subject of many a horror film. Take away the scare factor, however, and one may begin to admire those pearly whites. According to the Smithsonian, sharks may even have “the healthiest teeth in the animal kingdom.”
The reason for this is simple. Shark teeth consist of fluoride, which makes them extra-resistant to cavities. They also lose and replace their teeth every week, so you won’t see any holes in a shark’s teeth any time soon.
- Dog saliva has a high pH value
Much like sharks, you might find that your canine friend is more resistant to cavities than you are. The secret lies in their saliva. Unlike a human’s, dog saliva is less acidic, which neutralizes any acid attacks oral bacteria may face. Just make sure that your dog doesn’t have too much sugar in their diet. Too much of it and the acids may overtake your dog’s basic pH.
- Snails have more teeth than you think
It might be strange to think of snails as creatures with teeth, but they do. Snails have over 25,000 of them—more than any other animal combined. And like sharks, they lose and replace these teeth on the regular.But why do snails have so many teeth in the first place? The answer might lie with their seaward brethren. Marine snails are usually found clinging to rocks, and when they feed, they need to process any excess rock that might get in the way. Fortunately, their teeth-filled “tongue” (called a radula) allows them to do so.
- Humans and giraffes have the same number of teeth
This little fact might be hard to believe, but it’s true. We can’t blame you though—their teeth are located at the backs of their mouths, making them a little hard to spot. Giraffes instead use their tongues and lips to grab their food, before dragging them further into their mouths.
- A poisonous snake’s fangs are hollow
We all know venomous snakes bite their prey to release venom. But where does the poison come from? That’s right, their fangs. Instead of having the same dentin-and-pulp filled structure, a poisonous snake’s fangs are hollow. These fangs connect to the venom glands, which secrete the poison snakes need to kill or stun their prey.Note, however, that not all snake bites carry poison. Sometimes snakes do not dispense venom when they chomp down, known as a “dry bite.”
- Baleen whales don’t have “teeth,” but have plates made of keratin
If you’ve watched Finding Nemo, you might recall the big whale with a brush-like mouth that swallows up Marlin and Dory. That’s a baleen whale, and in the place of teeth, they have fringe-like plates that sweep up their meals. They don’t need teeth for sustenance, after all. Instead, they feed on the small shrimps and any unfortunate marine animal that manages to get caught up in their fringes.
- Beavers have orange teeth
Ever looked at a beaver’s teeth carefully? You might notice an orange hue to them. That’s because their tooth enamel contains iron, which makes them durable enough to chew down the bark.
- Dolphins use their teeth differently
Dolphins don’t need teeth, which is surprising considering how prominent they are. It does come in handy when they’re securing prey, or making use of their echolocation systems.