Who has the most teeth?
If you’ve been following our blog, you know the all-time record holder is the hadrosaur, with an astounding 600 individual teeth. But the hadrosaur hasn’t existed for a couple of million years– which currently living animal is the record holder?
Which animal has the most teeth (and how?)
It turns out, the mammal with the most teeth known to modern science…
… is the long-snouted spinner dolphin!
The long-snouted spinner dolphin boasts an amazing–for this geological age–250 teeth!
How does a dolphin manage to have so many teeth? Well, beyond the shape of its mouth–specifically suited to catching fish–the shape of the dolphin’s teeth are “thin, sharp spears.” This allows the dolphin a lot of oral-redundancy, in case it suffers damage to any of its teeth. Likewise, without much need to process or break-down plant matter, the spinner dolphin can devote all of its dental prowess to catching and tearing!
If you’re wondering how the spinner dolphin stacks up against other mammal’s mouths, then look no further! Comparing it to, say, a human’s 32 adult teeth can teach us a lot about how our mouths work.
The human mouth, like much of the rest of our fellow mammals’ mouths, is composed of four different types of teeth: molars, canines, incisors, and pre-molars. This arrangement of teeth means that we’re all “hetorodonts,” meaning simply that we have different kinds of teeth in our mouth. From mammal to mammal, our mouths contain different arrangements of these kinds of teeth, based on what we eat: horses and cows, for instance, have a lot of big molars for chewing and breaking down plant matter. They also have incisors, used for cutting and pulling. If you’re looking at a cat’s mouth, however, they have prominent canines, used in a similar fashion to the spinner dolphin’s spear-like teeth.
When looking at the human mouth, you can see that we’ve got molars, incisors, and canine teeth. This is because we’re able to eat a wide range of food, from plants, to fish, to grains, and so on. While this means we’re able to eat a bunch of different things, we can’t eat grass, like a cow, or raw meat, like a cat, due to their specialization. Likewise, since we don’t have the redundancy of the spinner dolphin, each of our teeth matter a lot, lot more.
The team here at Dr. Matthews’ office thinks the mouth is pretty cool! If you’re looking for more information on how to care for these excellent premolars, molars, incisors, and canines, then look no further– we have the information you need. Contact us to schedule an appointment!