Do Elephants Have Teeth: Truth About Tusks

elephant photo
Elephants are one of the most majestic animals to roam this planet. However, the numbers of these fine animals are consistently dwindling. The main reason behind such decline is poaching for their tusks.

Elephant tusks have always been a highly desirable product and continue to remain in high demand. However, with growing awareness about the plight of these fine animals, many people now eschew the use of tusks. It is expected that such awareness will help raise the number of elephants on earth (the Chinese for centuries have been paying people to kill these amazing animals for their tusks).

Here are some interesting facts about elephant tusks.

a) Tusks are Vital to Elephants: tusks are an important part of an elephant’s anatomy as they use them for a variety of purposes. Right from feeding themselves to defending themselves, the elephants are highly dependent on their tusks. They also use tusks for digging, foraging, and stripping the bark off  trees. Elephants clear their way in the forests by pulling plants apart using their tusks.

b) Tusks can Tell an Elephant’s Age: Just as the rings on a tree can tell its age, the tusks are also capable of disclosing the elephant’s age. However, for this purpose, the tusk must be unbroken. With the length of the tusk, it is possible to find an elephant’s age relative to its peers of the same species and sex.

c) Not All Elephants Have Tusks: Contrary to popular belief, not all elephants grow tusks. While all African elephants are blessed with majestic tusks, the phenomenon is rather rare for Asian elephants. Some male Asian elephants may grow tusks while some female Asian elephants grow tushes, which are much smaller versions of tusks. These tushes do not have any pulp inside.

d) Tusks are Unique: No two tusks are alike. This characteristic is widely used for identifying animals in the wild. The tusks are used in conjunction with the ears to locate particular elephants. The tusks have criss-cross lines, forming diamond shapes, giving them a unique design.

e) Size: The tusks are not visible in their entirety. In fact, about a third of the tusk is embedded in the elephant’s head and thus is not visible. The hidden part consists of tissues, blood vessels, and nerves. It is known as pulp. The visible part, on the other hand, consists of multiple layers of dentine. The tusks keep growing throughout the elephant’s life. Also, male elephants tend to have bigger tusks than female elephants.

Tusks are a crucial part of an elephant’s body.

It is not only highly functional but is also required for the elephant’s wellbeing. If the tusks get broken it could turn out to be fatal for the animal. Tusks have also been used by human beings for a variety of purposes which was ethical a millennia ago when the animal was also eaten. But killing an elephant just for the tusks for some irrational potion (China) or for a wall decoration is disgusting.

In the past, tusks have been turned into sculptures and decorative items (as just insinuated). These types of items gained popularity around the globe. However, conservation agencies have taken a number of steps to ensure that elephants are not poached for their tusks. Many people believe poachers should be executed.

Dan Matthews DDS
Dan Matthews Dan Matthews DDS The Park at Eanes Creek,
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