10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Shark Teeth
If there’s one thing sharks are known for, it’s their teeth. Unfortunately, shark choppers are also associated with many common misconceptions. For example, contrary to popular belief, not all shark teeth resemble those of a great white. Some bottom-dwelling sharks actually have flat teeth, which they use to crush the crustaceans and other shelled sea creatures that comprise their diet.
To brush up on our collective shark tooth knowledge, we compiled some of the most fascinating shark teeth facts out there for your personal consumption.
1. Sharks chomp on their own choppers.
While in the womb, baby great whites swallow their own teeth. Experts hypothesize they may do this for the calcium and other minerals. We think they must have a sweet tooth.
2. New teeth in no time!
When a shark loses a tooth, a new one rotates forward to replace it within 24 to 48 hours.
3. A tooth fairy’s worst nightmare
Sharks can lose up to 30,000-plus teeth in their lifetime.
4. Your worst nightmare
You know those dreams where all your teeth fall out? This is a reality for the cookie-cutter shark, which “sheds” and replaces all of its teeth at once.
5. When sharks bite the dust …
Teeth are all that’s left. Sharks are cartilaginous fish, but their teeth are made of dentin, a hard calcified tissue that doesn’t easily decompose. When they die, the cartilage dissolves and all that remains is the teeth.
6. There’s a “shark tooth capital of the world.”
It’s Venice, Florida—according to Venice, Florida.
7. Talk about a mouthful!
The Megalodon, which lived approximately 15.9 to 2.6 million years ago, had massive teeth that could reach more than 7 inches long.
8. Shark teeth records go wayyyyy back.
The oldest known records of fossilized shark teeth originate from Pliny the Elder—as in the great Roman author, naturalist and natural philosopher who lived between A.D. 23 and A.D. 79. He believed they fell from the sky during lunar eclipses.
9. Old-school poison control
Back in the day—specifically, the Middle Ages—fossilized shark teeth were believed to be petrified dragon tongues. When ground into a powder and consumed, these “glossopetrae” were considered an antidote for many poisons.
10. Perfect pearly whites
Sharks never have to worry about cavities, thanks to the fluoride covering their pearly whites. The fact that they’re constantly replacing old teeth with new ones probably helps, too.
- National Aquarium, Sharks
- Phys.org, Researchers Find Shark Teeth Made of Natural Fluoride
- LiveScience, Facts About Great White Sharks
- National Geographic, Great White Shark
- Smithsonian Institution, Great White Shark
- VeniceFlorida.com, Sharks Teeth
- SharkSavers, Shark Teeth
- Elasmo-Research, Biology of Sharks and Rays
- Smithsonian, Sharks were Once Called Sea Dogs, and Other Little Known Facts
- LiveScience, 8 Weird Facts About Sharks
- NBC News, The World’s Largest Shark Jaw—You Can Buy It
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