Have you ever thought about what animal has the most teeth? If so, prepare to embark on an adventure filled with interesting information and fun facts! When it comes to teeth, we are mostly preoccupied with our own, cleaning or having them fixed!
However, it is interesting to note that some animals have many teeth, and trust me, when you learn which one, it will baffle you! Most people immediately jump to sharks because of the Megalodon, an extinct prehistoric shark with very large teeth and plenty of them!
Let’s see who has the most teeth in the animal kingdom!
6 Animals with the Most Teeth!
When it comes to marsupials in North America (marsupials are a type of mammal), the winner with the most teeth is certainly the opossum!
These weirdly-looking bandits that like to rummage through our garbage and squat in our attics or garages have around 50 sharp and pointy teeth.
Like us, these gray critters go through two sets of teeth; the first ones are the deciduous or milk teeth, and the other ones are the adult teeth, which all develop when an opossum reaches six months of age.
Out of 50 teeth, 18 are incisors, which are very small and are located at the front of the mouth. They use these incisors to grasp and pull food, ranging from leaves to insects.
Similar to cats and dogs, opossums have two canines on top and lower jaw, which are large and prominent and used when hunting. These critters, endemic to North America, also have 12 premolars and 16 molars used for gnawing and chewing food.
Fun Fact: Opossums use their teeth for self-defense in addition to eating and chewing, although their most known technique of defending includes ‘playing dead.’
2. Giant Armadillo
When it comes to land mammals, the animal that has the most teeth is the giant armadillo. These oddly-looking mammals with a “shield or armor” usually have between 80 and 100 teeth at once. Interestingly, “armadillo” in Spanish means “little armored one!” How fitting!
Giant armadillo belongs to the order Cingulata and comes from the deep rainforests of South America.
Unlike other mammals, these small armored animals have simple teeth called homodonts, which are small and peg-like teeth. Interestingly, they use their teeth to grind food rather than to capture the prey.
Armadillos are omnivores and have a versatile diet, but they prefer eating invertebrates, such as termites, cockroaches, and ants. Although not very sharp, their teeth allow them to crush these insects easily, other small mammals, and plants.
Also, they have a very large jaw, or more precisely, a very long one, and given that their teeth are simple, more of them can fit.
3. Bottlenose Dolphins
Did you know that bottlenose dolphin has between 72 and 104 teeth? Yes! Generally, dolphins have 44 round and conical-shaped teeth, but some species, such as bottlenose dolphins, can have more teeth!
Their teeth are located both on the lower jaw and upper jaw, similar to the arrangement of our teeth. They just have more of them! However, unlike our teeth, the dolphin’s teeth are sharp and pointy, which makes them ideal for catching slippery prey.
They prefer to eat various fish, squids, jellyfish, and octopuses. Interestingly, they do not chew; they swallow their food whole, and according to a theory, these marine mammals have evolved to capture and eat the prey before it swims away.
Dolphins only have one set of teeth for life, so when a tooth falls out, it will not be replaced.
Well, you knew that sharks had to be on the list! Most people know that sharks have a lot of razor-sharp teeth, mainly due to Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” but how many teeth exactly do they have?
Depending on the species, the sharks can have around 3,000 teeth at once, while they can go through 35,000 teeth in their lifetime.
For example, whale sharks, requiem sharks, and great white sharks have approximately 3,000. However, the teeth of whale sharks are very small, and they do not use them for eating, unlike their other cousins.
Generally, shark teeth grow in conveyor-belt rows, with between 5 and 15 rows of teeth. Unlike us, sharks are born with teeth, and during their lifetime, their teeth fall out.
Humans produce only two types of teeth, while sharks have dentition that regenerates throughout their life. When a tooth falls out, the new one will be ready to come in its place, sometimes in under an hour or two weeks, depending on the species.
Fun Fact: Sharks lose dozens of teeth per week!
Who would’ve guessed that these tiny slimy nuisances that like to eat our vegetables and decorative plants have a lot of teeth? Maybe that’s the reason why they can demolish our garden quickly!
Either way, snails have around 25,000 teeth, which is a lot for such small creatures. Remember that there are numerous species of snails, some of which have fewer teeth, such as 10,000 to 15,000, which is still more than our 32 teeth.
For example, the African Giant Snails has 25,500 teeth, while garden snails have around 14,000.
Belonging to the animal class gastropods, snails’ teeth are arranged in rows on their tongues, called “radula.”
Besides the large number of teeth, their teeth are surprisingly very strong and durable and made to scrape food and nibble. Of course, they are very small and cannot harm our skin.
Interestingly, snails can be found almost everywhere except Antarctica; some even have gills, also known as prosobranchs or gilled snails, although most of them have lungs. Sea slugs also use gills for breathing oxygen!
6. Sea Slugs
So, which animal has the most teeth? Now get ready to be baffled! Sea Slugs! Yes, that is true; these slimy alien-looking creatures have around 750,000 teeth throughout their lifetime.
Just like regular garden snails and limpets, the Umbrella Sea slug, also known as Umbraculum Umbraculum, belongs to the gastropods class, a class of invertebrates, and has many teeth!
There are different species of sea slugs, such as the Rainbow sea slug, which has over 700,000 teeth, and most have enormously high numbers of teeth! What makes them even more interesting is that their teeth are not arranged how you think they will be!
Their teeth are on their tongues, and the intrigue does not stop there! When someone says teeth, we think about the teeth like ours, which are made of calcium phosphate, which is not the case with sea slug’s teeth.
Their teeth are razor-sharp and called “radula” or a chitinous ribbon with backward-facing teeth on its surface, which they use to devour worms, algae, and sponges.
Chitin is an important biopolymer in nature; interestingly, it’s the material that makes up the exoskeletons of insects.
Therefore, it is pretty tough and sturdy. The sea slug’s teeth do not grow or fall out like regular teeth! Instead of having baby teeth that eventually fall out and are replaced with adult teeth, their small devouring machines just move forward on their tongue.
When their teeth get dull and worn out, they already have other ones ready to spring forward.
Fun Facts About Animal Teeth
Did you know that rodents, rabbits, and squirrels have teeth that grow constantly? Yes, to stop them from growing into their mouth and brain, they have to grind them against each other, just like we have to file down our nails.
Which animals have the longest canine teeth? Those would be hippopotami whose incisors can reach 1.2 feet while their canines can grow to 1.5 feet. Now, which animals have the strongest bite force? Who could it be other than the Nile crocodile?
For comparison, the human bite is 162 per square inch or PSI, while the bite of a Nile crocodile is between 4,000 and 5,000 PSI. Interestingly, Nile crocodiles are smaller than saltwater crocodiles, but they make up for their lack of size with this formidable bite force!
That is not all! Everybody knows or at least remembers narwhals as marine animals with a long horn! But interestingly, that is not a tusk or horn; that is a large canine tooth that can grow up to 9 feet. Essentially, it is an inside-out tooth with thousands of nerve endings!
Since we are on the topic of narwhals, their scientific name is Monodon monoceros, which translates to “one-tooth, one horn”!
Also, have you ever wondered how come animals do not have cavities? We often deal with cavities or tooth decay because our diets are high in sugar, while animal diet does not include large quantities of sweets, chocolate, and sugary drinks!
So, we have come to the end of this interesting journey! The animals with the most teeth are sea slugs and snails, although their teeth differ greatly from our teeth or what we consider normal dentition.
Then, some sharks can go through 35,000 teeth during their lifetime. Of course, let’s not forget the dolphins, namely, the bottlenose dolphin, which has between 70 and 104 teeth.
Talking about mammals, the winner is Giant Armadillo with nearly 100 teeth, and last but not least is the opossum with its formidable and scary jaw with 50 teeth.
Were you surprised to learn that sea slugs have the most teeth? What do you think? Which animal has the weirdest teeth? Please, share your opinion with us, and if you have any questions, ask away!