In the animal kingdom, mammal teeth are among the most varied. This is because each mouth of these heterodonts possesses a range of teeth suitable for different tasks from grinding to slicing to piercing and lifting, contrary to the spike and needle-like teeth that populate the mouths of aquatic animals.
Teeth outlast ephemeral skin, flesh and bones by millions of years. Thanks to their strong enamel. For paleontologists and evolutionary biologists, their robustness has been vital in understanding the fossils of animals long dead. Conversely, a living being without teeth means fighting a battle against starvation. So here we will talk about animals blessed with the largest teeth on Earth!
Read: 13 Animals With No Teeth
13 Animals With Long Teeth
Sharks have cruel, unforgiving teeth that instill terror in humans. The megalodon, a relative of the great white shark, went extinct by the end of the Pliocene epoch about 2.6 million years ago, i.e., the Cenozoic Era (28MYa to 1.5MYa ago).
It fed on large aquatic animals like whales for food. Since a shark’s body comprises cartilage, only its massive jaws are fossilized. Even though their bodies are much smaller, the great white shark can have similar-sized, typically triangular teeth that could reach an impressive 16.76 cm to 18 cm long – the largest of any shark before or since. The megalodon’s jaw was big enough for an adult to walk through when open.
2. Tyrannosaurus Rex
If you want to see regular teeth this large, it should be the most famous fearsome tyrant king of the dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus Rex, with a massive set of teeth. Its curved incisors were of the size of bananas 23+ cm long.
So, it’s easy to imagine the damage a bite from this beast could do. Along with similar-sized therapods like Carcharodontosaurus & Gigantosaurus, this family sported the largest non-specialized teeth among dinosaurs.
The porcine visage of the warthog takes us further up the scale of even longer teeth; the 23 cm long canines are usually used more to dominate or carry a kill rather than as a tool to aid with eating.
The warthog’s tusks are unusual in how the upper tusks protrude from the snout to form a semicircle. In addition, the shorter lower tusks rub against the upper tusks every time the warthog opens and closes its mouth. This makes the lower tusks razor-sharp.
4. Smilodon Populator
If modern-day lions have arguably the largest teeth of any land predator today, the smilodon or saber-toothed Tiger had the most pitiless jaws of any prehistoric mammal one can imagine. In addition, this Ice Age predator sported long canines that were thought to have been used to deliver a precise, singular killing blow to its prey.
Their infamous out-sized canines could be 23 cm to 28 cm long. There is no surprise why it is thought to have eaten the megafauna such as giant camels, sloths & bison of its time.
5. Sperm Whale
The sperm whale has the largest teeth of any whale species that exist. There are two broad types of whales, the ones with baleen ‘teeth’ that filter food and the ones with ‘proper’ teeth. They are visible only from the lower jaw; the upper jaw’s teeth never erupt.
They weigh a kilo each and can be as long as 18 cm each, i.e., approximately 8 inches long. Sperm whales are known for having up to twenty-six teeth in their lower jaw. These teeth are shaped like cones, and the lower jaw is narrow.
Although the primary food source of the sperm whale is the giant squid, researchers have discovered their teeth are not part of the feeding events. Unusually for mammals, the sperm whale doesn’t use its teeth for eating and hunting but for display and fighting other males.
6. Saltwater Crocodile
Saltwater crocodiles are the largest of the crocodilian species & are native to Australia and called “salty” by locals. The length of the teeth depends on the species of crocodile. Saltwater crocodiles have the longest teeth. They can be 4 inches long.
Saltwater crocodiles also have the strongest bite of any living animal. A saltwater crocodile has also been confirmed as having the highest bite force ever recorded for an animal.
Their sharp, peg-like teeth are well-suited to seize and tightly grip prey. As a result, small prey is swallowed whole, while larger animals are dragged into deep water and drowned or crushed brutally to death.
Panthera leo is among the most vicious of all the Big Cats and is recognizable worldwide with 9+ cm long, impressive canines. Adult lion canines are about 10 centimeters long compared to adult human canines, which are slightly more than 1.5 centimeters long.
Lions have 30 teeth; 12 incisors, four canines, ten premolars, and four molars. The canines can grow up to ten centimeters long and are conical and slightly recurved back towards the skull. The large size and sharp, pointed shape of a lion’s teeth are used to shred and tear the meat they eat. Primarily teeth are used for rending flesh and pinning prey; lions’ teeth are perfectly adapted to their environment.
Alligators possess the second strongest bite on Earth after crocodiles. However, most people would balk at coming face-to-face with an alligator. Human teeth grow to around 1cm in length, but this hardly compares to the flesh-rending 4 cm beauties sported by adult alligators facing no predators.
9. Siberian Tiger
The largest of the big cats also has the largest teeth of any mammalian predator alive, though grizzly bears come close. When a tiger is snarling, its large teeth are pronounced. In addition, adult tigers have powerful jaws to catch hold of moving prey. Encompassed in these jaws are thirty teeth, with sixteen in the upper jaw and fourteen in the lower one.
A unique fact is that adult tiger can only move up and down their lower jaws. As a result, they can deliver a single lethal bite & make their kills by biting down on their prey’s neck.
Instead, they utilize their carnassial teeth to shear large chunks of meat. The Tiger has a powerful bite with its large teeth as long as 7.62 cm, with jaw muscles extending to the top of its skull.
The hippopotamus is the third largest land animal having the largest canines of any land animal. Hippos are known for their sword-like long incisors of 1.2 feet (40cm) that can reach nearly 2 feet long, backed by the most powerful bite of any land mammal. An adult hippopotamus can have as many as thirty-six teeth. The snapping jaws of the hippo can crush the unfortunate prey into two.
Despite their meatless diet, it takes little provocation for hippos to attack humans. Humans try to avoid coming in contact with the hippopotamus as Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal. Even in Africa, home to lions and other large cats, no animal is as dangerous and formidable as the hippo.
Certain mammal species’ tusks are elongated, continuously growing front teeth that protrude well beyond the mouth. They are most commonly canine teeth, as with pigs and walruses, or elongated incisors in the case of elephants. Let us also know about the longest tusks in the animal kingdom.
The animal that holds the record for the largest teeth in the world ever has to be the prehistoric mastodon. This predecessor of the modern elephant had tusks around 420 cm in length, as known from fossils found by Anthropologist George Langford Sr. However, the record may yet be beaten.
The tusk of the Walrus is the largest canine of any animal ever known. The 100 cm long upper canines of the Walrus are comparatively tiny when faced with 23 cm long teeth. Although the Walrus is best known for its extremely long tusks, they also have rudimentary teeth.
These teeth grow to almost two inches in length. Although the teeth of the Walrus are not used for feeding, a human still would not want to encounter them. Most individual walruses have eighteen teeth, but some have as many as thirty-two.
Both male and female walruses possess large canine tusks and use them in various ways. They not only use them for fighting, dominance, and display but also employ them as tools for breaking ice in forming and maintaining holes in the ice to help haul themselves out of the water. In addition, their tusks serve as weapons used in territorial and mating competitions.
14. African Elephant
The tusks of an elephant are not really what you think of when you think of teeth. However, tusks are modified incisors. Almost a third of the tusk is embedded in the skull with a massive 300 cm long, 90 kg weight that continues to grow throughout their lives. The growth process takes place at a rate of 18 cm per year.
Both the Asian and African varieties of elephants will have 26 teeth in their lifetimes. Each molar is roughly brick-sized and can weigh upwards of 4 pounds.