A Tooth is a Tooth?
Images Copyright K. Cathleen Lengyel
| Great White Tooth
|| Tiger Shark Tooth
|| Nurse Shark Tooth
Most people when they think of a shark think TEETH. Yet many do not realize that
different species of sharks can be identified by their teeth. Each species has it's own
tooth shape, and just like various animals have teeth for their various diets, so do sharks!
For example, the Cookiecutter shark has a unique mouth as well as teeth. It's mouth and jaws are shaped to form a circular bite with a suction action. The teeth on the lower jaw are large and saw-like, used to cut out a cookie shaped circular plug from the intended pray. The Cookiecutter shark moves around in a circular pattern as it "cuts out" and sucks the plug of flesh from the pray.
A Great White Shark is known by it's perfectly triangular teeth with serrated edges. The teeth are the same in the upper and lower jaws, unlike many other species. Since the mainstay of a Great White's diet are pinnipeds (Seals, Sea Lions etc) they need these strong teeth to penetrate the thick fatty layers of skin of the pinninpeds.
Shark's teeth have a very short life. In some species a tooth may last only a month, while in others a tooth can last up to a year. So sharks have many rows (some species have 15 rows) of teeth behind their main teeth. As an old tooth breaks out, a new one simply moves up from behind replacing the lost tooth. The teeth are formed from skin tissue
which then develops a layer of enamel.
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