10 Fascinating Facts About Shark Teeth

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.

  1. Baby sharks (known as “pups”) are born with a full set of teeth.
  2. Shark teeth don’t have roots, so they fall out easily while eating — typically, around one tooth per week.
  3. 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!
  4. Sharks continually shed their teeth, with some species going through as many as 35,000 during their lifetime.
  5. 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.
  6. Because of their natural toothpaste and their constant shedding of teeth, sharks never get cavities.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. During the Renaissance, fossilized shark teeth were thought to come from dragons and were thus used as cures for snake bites and other poisons.
  10. 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)