Dreading a visit to the dentist? Don’t worry, if you think you’ve got tooth issues..take a look at this lot!
At first glance, the coypu’s (aka river rat’s) teeth don’t look too healthy – in fact they look distinctly bad! But a closer inspection shows that they’re actually orange! They’re not alone in this peculiar peg pigment, as beavers have orange teeth too. It’s nothing to do with them not following good oral hygiene, but rather the amount of iron present in their nashers, giving them that unusual hue – you could say that they have metal coated teeth! This makes them good and strong – a plus when you’re spending most of your day using your dental assets to cut down trees and saw up wood! They’re also less likely to suffer decay as their ferric features resist acid too.
One thing about teeth is that they’re fixed right? Not if you’re a mole rat they’re not! These guys’ front teeth grow on the outside of their mouths, giving them that toothy grin! If that wasn’t odd enough, they can actually move their front teeth independently – using them like chopsticks. Why would you want your teeth on the outside? When you don’t want to spend all your day eating dirt!
Nothing to see here….or is there? Suddenly, out of the depths of the sea emerges a set of razor sharp teeth, which you’d probably feel before you saw! The ferocious dragon fish has teeth that are practically see-through – set inside a dark mouth, this means that you literally wouldn’t spot these needle-like incisors before they’ve laid into you! Apparently, it’s all in the mix of dentine and enamel which helps to make these scary structures hide in plain sight!
Now we all know that the likes of geese have bills and not teeth right? A bit of both is nearer the truth – geese do have sharp teeth like serrations on the edge of their tongues, which help them in munching up veggies and small insects. So, a peck from a goose may have just that little bit more bite than you’d bargained for!
One creature has taken tooth growing to whole new lengths. The narwhal is well known for its long spear-like tusk, which it brandishes around unabashed. This impressive looking appendage is in fact a tooth that has grown to an incredible size – up to 3m (10ft) – and it’s not some unfeeling piece of bone, oh no, the narwhal’s tusk contains millions of nerve endings, making it extremely sensitive. It’s generally the males that sport these structures and yes, you know what they say about big tusks… You’d think these guys would use these handy horns to spear fish, but they only stun their prey with them. In fact the exact use of the tusk remains somewhat of a mystery – it could be used as an ice breaker, weather forecaster or even communication station …but only the narwhal knows for sure.
It’s devastating to lose a tooth, but sharks don’t worry about the odd peg or two dropping out – they actually expect to lose at least one or two every week! So how do they manage not to end up all gummy? Easy! They simply grow new ones! Sharks never run out of teeth, once some have fallen out, the next row is waiting ready to take over. They keep their pegs locked and loaded ready to bite on and on all day long – they’re never going to need a set of dentures!
The rodent family might only get the one set of teeth, but the ones they have keep right on growing and growing and growing. Whilst their strong and sharp incisors have made these critters immensely successful as they can nibble, chomp and gnaw their way through just about anything; the only chore is to keep them in good shape – they just gotta chew and chew and chew – it’s the only way to keep those choppers under control!
The prize for the very sharpest teeth of all belong to an awesome underwater predator – the orca. Not only are they keened to perfection, but their top and bottom sets fit perfectly together – no gaps here – this forms an ultra-uniform bite…ouch! These guys aren’t called killer whales for nothing!
Chinese water deer don’t do antlers – they go for that ring of confidence instead! Their lengthy 2-3 inch (5-8cm) canines are there for all to see; and that’s just the point, as these deer use their flashy fangs as a means of defence – don’t come bothering me if you don’t want to feel the sharp end of these babies! But it’s mainly all show – luckily their vegetarians – phew!
What do you get if you cross a pig and a deer? A Babirusa of course! Babirusa have really gone to town on their teeth. Why settle for one pair of impressive curving canines, when you can have two! But where to put them…how about up through the roof of your nose! This ostentatious orthodontistry might be the envy of many a swine, but they must make sure they grind down these appendages regularly, otherwise they could find that they’ve taken a bite out of themselves!
So look after your teeth and never bite off more than you can chew!