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A Closer Look in ~ … a Weddell Seal’s this & Jaw

Open wide! Let’s take a look within the mouth the a Weddell Seal!

Big yawn!!! photo Credit: mock Landis, national Science Foundation.

You are watching: How many teeth do seals have

No doubt, the an initial thing that ‘sticks out’ to you in this snapshot are the teeth! let’s bite into Weddell seal teeth and divide them into two sections: front this and earlier teeth!

Front this - Canines and also Incisors

Take a watch at this incisors and canines - indigenous the front. Picture Credit: Jennifer Burns.

You deserve to surely tell this seals are carnivores (meat eaters) by feather at their teeth. Examine out those canines! Weddell seals have 4 canine teeth – situated on the political parties of the front teeth, two on top and also two top top the bottom. Carnivores have long canines the are offered for easily grabbing prey.

Between the canines are 4 incisors – 4 ~ above top, 4 top top bottom. An alert how much larger the external two incisors are compared to the 2 in the center (on both top and bottom). Most carnivores usage their incisors to help hold prey, but ‘Wedds’ have an additional special use for them. Take a look at this next photo and check out if you can figure it out!

Now take a look indigenous the side! photograph Credit: Jennifer Burns

Notice anything that sticks out a bit?

Sure - your canines! yet do you know why?

You may remember the Weddell seals live additional south than any type of other seal, and the persons we space studying here live under the Ross Sea iceThere room terms for different varieties of ice. Shorefast ice creates along coasts and is attached to land. Load ice is ice floating in open water. Multiyear ice cream is ice cream that has survived at least 1 summer. An initial year ice is ice cream that has actually not yet survived a melt season. Shelf. However how execute they get above the ice to breathe? – through the aid of your teeth! Weddells space able to survive under the ice cream shelf because their canines and incisors are specially adjusted (they stick out) which permits them to ream, or break v the ice cream to make and keep their breathing feet open.

Check out this video clip to see just how they carry out that!Weddell seal shaving ice v teeth to preserve breathing holeVideo Credit: BBC Natural background Unit, Arkive

Did you notice how much the seal opened its mouth come ream the ice? similar to our jaw, the top part is stationary while the reduced part, or mandible, move up and also down. The Weddell seal have the right to open that jaw really wide - which provides it easy once reaming an ice hole or opening broad to swallow a foot-long fish.

With all that reaming, that no wonder that their teeth show some wear and also tear together they get older!

Did you know? unequal humans, Weddell seals gain one set of teeth. A pup’s teeth grow in as soon as they room nursing - throughout the first 6 main of your lives.

Back teeth - Post-canines

In the earlier of a seal’s mouth - whereby our premolars and also molars would be - are the post-canine teeth. If you have actually a mirror – take a look at at her molars and also compare them come this picture of the Weddell’s post-canine teeth.

What differences do girlfriend see between human and Weddell teeth?

Our molars have a wide rectangular shape, space basically flat on peak with a slight dip in the center.

The post-canine this of a Weddell have a small oval basic which peaks come a rounded point. Really different, yet why? can you guess?

Weddell seal with mouth large open. Picture Credit: Daniel Costa.

Our molars are used to grind food after we’ve taken a bite. Due to the fact that Weddell seals generally swallow your food whole, castle don’t usage post-canines for grind food – their teeth are offered to aid get the food down.

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Go Deeper!

Just favor your dentist knows just how many and what kind of teeth are in your mouth, scientists recognize all around seal mouths too! They usage a dental formula, which speak them which teeth to suppose to see in the mouths of certain animals. The dentist formula divides the upper and also lower jaws in fifty percent and start in the middle, therefore “I 2/2” way there space 2 incisors ~ above the best side and also 2 ~ above the left next of each jaw; and since incisors are detailed first, they are closest to the middle of the mouth. Examine out the dentist formulas because that Weddell seals and also humans:

Weddell seals: ns 2/2, C 1/1, pc 5/5 (I = incisor, C = canine, and also PC= article canine)

Humans: ns 2/2, C 1/1, ns 2/2, M 3/3 (P = premolar and M = molar)

Did you an alert that the number and distribution that teeth are basically the same? – The difference is in the shapes!

In recommendation to photos noted by Jennifer Burns, Daniel Costa and also myself: The activity/animal depicted was conducted pursuant to NMFS allow No 87-1851.