Teeth come in many shapes, forms, and sizes, but they all share a same purpose: to help break down and digest food. The animal kingdom is full of thousands of different types of teeth.
Have you ever wanted to know which animal has the most teeth? How many does it have? What does it eat that requires it to have that many teeth?
Keep reading to find out. This list will tell you what animals have the most teeth, starting with the most. Keep reading to learn about the top 7 animals with the most teeth!
7 Animals with the Most Teeth – From Most to Least
1. Umbrella Sea Slug
- Scientific Name: Umbraculum umbraculum
- Number of Teeth: 750,000
This probably isn’t the animal you expected to have the most teeth of any animal on earth! The sea slug has a mountain range of teeth within its mouth. Instead of being arranged in a jaw like mammals or reptiles, a snail’s teeth are on its tongue, also called a radula.
These teeth are not the same kind you’d find on a dog, horse, or human being. They’re made of chitin, the same compound that makes up the exoskeletons of insects. They also grow in a completely different way.
Instead of baby teeth falling out and adult teeth growing in, sea slugs’ teeth progress forward on their tongue like a slowly-moving conveyor belt. The old teeth get worn out just as the new ones spring forward.
Despite their differences, sea slugs’ teeth serve the same purpose as our teeth: they capture and begin to break down food.
- Scientific Name: various, all gastropods.
- Number of Teeth: 25,000
It makes sense that snails have the second-highest number of teeth. After all, they’re also gastropods, and close relatives of the sea slugs.
On land and sea, snails’ teeth scrape away at food, obstacles, and climbing surfaces. This helps the animal find nutrients and learn as much about its environment as possible.
Snails live on every continent and environment of the world except for Antarctica. They make their homes in the depths of the ocean and the more far-reaching jungle. There are snails with lungs and those with gills; some have even learned to survive in both environments for limited periods of time!
3. Requiem Sharks
- Scientific Name: The family Carcharhinidae
- Number of Teeth: 3,000
Requiem sharks encompass a group of sharks with high numbers of teeth and a variety of personalities. They are carnivorous, predatory, and clever hunters. Many fishermen have nicknamed them the ‘garbage cans of the sea’ because they eat anything and everything that will fit in their mouths.
It makes sense that such a deadly shark would have a deadly bite to go along with it. These sharks are some of the vertebrates with the most teeth. They include Tiger sharks, Lemon sharks, Blacktip sharks, blue sharks, and others.
Unlike mammals, sharks’ teeth are made out of cartilage. They don’t have roots that extend deep into the gums; instead, the teeth fall out easily and the shark just grows more.
4. Great White Shark
- Scientific Name: Carcharodon charcharias
- Number of Teeth: 3,000
Many students know the silhouette of a Great white shark’s tooth. The characteristic V-shaped form is easy to distinguish, whether it’s on a necklace, on the ocean floor, or in the jaw of a charging Great white. Great white sharks are vicious predators.
Their razor-sharp teeth grow in rows within their jaws. These teeth mature continuously throughout their life. If one tooth breaks off, the tooth in the next row comes to fill in that space.
Great whites are powerful apex predators of most of Earth’s oceans. Females, which are larger than males, grow to be up to 16 feet long! They can also live well into their 70s.
5. Common Bottlenose Dolphin
- Scientific Name: Tursiops truncatus
- Number of Teeth: 72-116
If you’ve ever visited an aquarium or seen dolphins while boating, you’ve probably encountered a common bottlenose dolphin! These friendly marine mammals are sociable and well-adapted to humans.
They work together in groups called pods to shepherd and catch fish, which they catch with their long, bottle-shaped snouts. Pods live throughout the world’s oceans, only limited by cold water temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
Unlike sharks, male bottlenose dolphins are usually bigger than females. They can measure up to 13 feet long, while the biggest females reach about 11.5 feet.
6. Giant Armadillo
- Scientific Name: Priodontes maximus
- Number of Teeth: 80-100
Giant armadillos are native to the northern grasslands and mountainous Andes of South America. They have the most teeth of any land-dwelling mammal.
Giant armadillos eat many kinds of invertebrates, including termites, ants, and worms. Some scientists have recorded them eating snakes as well as plant materials. Not much is known about them, since they are shy, rare, and often hunted for meat.
Like rodents’ teeth, the Giant armadillo’s teeth grow continuously throughout its life. It is only through constant chewing and gnawing that the armadillo keeps the teeth worn down sufficiently. They lack enamel compared to other mammals’ teeth.
Unlike rodents, however, Giant armadillos’ teeth are almost all identical in size and shape. Scientists see the Giant armadillo’s teeth as an intermediate stage between the development of continuously-growing teeth and more customized, diet-specific teeth like those of dogs, cats, and humans.
7. Virginia Opossum
- Scientific Name: Didelphis virginianus
- Number of Teeth: 50
The Virginia opossum has a very high number of teeth for a mammal. Most mammals have fewer teeth than fish, sharks, and mollusks. This holds true for the opossum.
However, the opossum’s teeth are especially adapted to last for a longer time period than those animals’ teeth. These teeth have the unique ability to fit into different locking positions in the jaw. This helps the opossum rip apart food and have a more solid hold on threats and prey.
Since the teeth are made of bone and they grow roots deep into the jaw. As a result, a Virginia opossum’s teeth do not replace themselves continually.
It has just two sets of teeth: milk teeth and adult teeth. It uses the milk teeth when it is a baby, then loses those teeth when the adult teeth grow in.