19 September 2022
Adult humans typically have 32 teeth after our wisdom teeth come in at age 12-14, but our count is low compared to other animals.
Which animal in North America has the most teeth?
The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a contender with 50 teeth in his small mouth. He shows them when he feels threatened.
Some say that sharks have the most teeth but as far as I can tell their tooth count, often lower than 100, is not as remarkable as their tooth replacement. For instance, young lemon sharks replace all their teeth every 7-8 days so that in their lifetimes “the lemon shark Negaprion brevirostris, may produce 20,000 teeth in its first 25 years, and may live as long as 50 years.“
The winner of the most-teeth contest are land and sea snails which usually have between 10-15,000 teeth, though some may have up to 25,000. This includes snails in the ocean off the North American coasts.
Studies of the European garden snail (Cornu aspersum), an alien in North America, indicate it has 14,000 teeth. Take a look at his toothy mouth under a microscope and find out why snails have so many teeth at NMH.org: Microscopic look at snail jaws.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)