10 Fascinating Facts About Shark Teeth
Shark Week on the Discover Channel might be over with, but as far as I’m concerned, every week is Shark Week — especially with the ever-present threat of a sharknado. In honor of the toothy fascination we all have with sharks, here are some weird and wonderful facts about shark teeth for you to sink your teeth into.
- Baby sharks (known as “pups”) are born with a full set of teeth.
- Shark teeth don’t have roots, so they fall out easily while eating — typically, around one tooth per week.
- Most sharks have five rows of teeth, making it easy to replace the ones that fall out. In a bit of evolutionary overkill, the bull shark has 50 rows of teeth!
- Sharks continually shed their teeth, with some species going through as many as 35,000 during their lifetime.
- Shark teeth have built-in toothpaste, as they are covered in a layer of fluoride, the primary element that most toothpastes and mouthwashes use to prevent tooth decay.
- Because of their natural toothpaste and their constant shedding of teeth, sharks never get cavities.
- Although sharks are renowned for their sharp teeth, some species, like the nurse shark or zebra shark, have flattened teeth due to their diet of hard-shelled crabs and mollusks.
- Because shark teeth are made of bone and their skeletons are made of cartilage, the teeth are the only part of a shark’s body that can become fossilized.
- During the Renaissance, fossilized shark teeth were thought to come from dragons and were thus used as cures for snake bites and other poisons.
- The largest shark teeth from any known species are about seven inches in length and weigh up to a pound. They come from the prehistoric megalodon, which measured 45 to 60 feet in length and thankfully became extinct about 1.5 million years ago.
(Sources: Discovery, Beach Chair Scientist, Enchanted Learning, ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research, About.com)