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How Many Teeth Do Sharks Have? (Explained)

Shark shows its jaws to a camera

 

Anyone that thinks of sharks tends to immediately picture a shark with its mouth wide open showing all of its teeth.

Sharks are one of the largest predators in the ocean, and for many species of sharks, their teeth are the main tool that they use to hunt.

Whether you are just curious about sharks or have spent time around them, you are probably wondering how many teeth sharks have.

This is what you need to know about sharks and how many teeth they have.

 

How Many Teeth Do Sharks Have?

Shark diving in the Sea of Cortez

 

The common species of sharks have anywhere from 50 to 350 teeth at one time.

Over their lifetime, sharks will have thousands of teeth with some shark species having 20,000 or more teeth.

Sharks’ teeth are in rows in their mouth with them having anywhere from 5 to 15 rows of teeth, and some species of sharks have even more.

These rows of teeth are not always in use but they are there to move forward as sharks lose their teeth.

The exact number of teeth that a shark has will depend on the species of shark.

 

How Many Teeth Are Sharks Born With?

Whitetip Reef Shark

 

Unlike humans, shark pups are born with a full set of teeth.

They may not have as many rows of teeth as they will have as fully mature adults, but baby sharks are independent from birth.

They swim away from their mother and immediately must begin hunting on their own, which is why they are born with a full set of teeth.

 

Why Do Sharks Have So Many Teeth?

Great white shark

 

Sharks have a large number of teeth due to the way their bodies are made.

Sharks do not have any bones.

Instead, they are made out of tough cartilage.

This allows them to move quickly and efficiently in the water.

Since sharks do not have any bones, their teeth are not secured into an actual jawbone like human teeth are.

Therefore, they lose teeth quite easily which means that they must have other teeth to take the place of the teeth that fall out.

The new teeth move into place in a conveyor belt fashion, and it takes approximately 24 to 48 hours for a new tooth to come in and replace a tooth that has fallen out.

Sharks use their teeth to hunt, so if they did not have other teeth to move in as they lose them, it would create a large problem for them.

 

How Many Teeth Does A Shark Lose In Its Lifetime?

Dangerous shark in the aquarium

 

It has been estimated that sharks will lose 20 or more teeth per week, which means that sharks can lose several dozen teeth per month.

When adding this up to a shark’s lifespan of 20 to 30 years, then this means that sharks can lose 20,000 teeth or more in their entire lifetime.

 

Do A Shark’s Teeth Come Out When They Bite Something?

Great white shark with open mouth

 

Since a shark’s teeth are not secured to a bone, they can lose them so easily, so they do come out when they bite into something.

This is how a large number of shark teeth end up on the bottom of the ocean.

If they are aggressively using their teeth to bite into something, they are likely to lose quite a few teeth.

For this reason, people that are victims of a shark attack may end up with a shark tooth embedded in their skin where the shark bit them.

 

Will Sharks Swallow Their Own Teeth?

great white shark

 

Since sharks lose teeth when they bite into something, there is a chance of them swallowing their own teeth as they consume their prey.

It is not uncommon for sharks to swallow their teeth, nor is it harmful to them.

If they swallow their teeth they will just digest them as they do the meal they ate.

 

Can A Shark Run Out Of Teeth?

Ferocious Great White Shark

 

According to experts, sharks have an almost infinite amount of teeth.

Although they can lose thousands of teeth during their lifetime, they can regenerate new teeth consistently to keep up with the number of teeth that they are losing.

There have been no sharks reported that ran out of teeth, and it is believed that sharks will continue to grow new teeth as often as it is needed.

It is thought that sharks have developed to have an almost unlimited number of teeth due to their dire need for teeth to hunt and survive.

 

Which Shark Has The Most Teeth?

Whale Shark underwater with big open mouth

 

Out of all of the species of sharks, the whale shark has the most teeth.

The whale shark is the largest species of shark but also one of the friendliest.

Whale sharks are actually filter feeders and only eat plankton and fish eggs.

Whale sharks have approximately 3,000 teeth, but they are so small that most people cannot see them even when they are up close to a whale shark.

The teeth that whale sharks have are considered non-functional.

 

What Are The Different Types Of Shark Teeth?

Lower teeth in preserved jaw of shark

 

There are four main types of shark teeth that sharks can have depending on the exact species of shark.

 

1. Dense Flattened Shark Teeth

Certain species of sharks will have flattened teeth that are used to crush harder objects such as crustaceans.

Typically the sharks that have flattened teeth are those that are found at the bottom of the ocean floor such as angel sharks and nurse sharks.

 

2. Needle-Like Shark Teeth

Needle-like teeth are found in sharks that need to have sharp teeth to feed on fish and small sharks.

They need these sharp teeth to pierce through their prey.

Species that have needle-like teeth include bull sharks and blue sharks.

 

3. Pointed Lower And Triangular Upper Shark Teeth

The pointed lower and triangular upper teeth are the typical shark teeth that people think of when picturing a shark’s mouth.

These teeth are needed for hunting and cutting larger mammals.

These teeth have serrated edges that can truly rip apart prey.

The Great White shark is one of the most well-known species of shark that has these teeth.

 

4. Non-Functional Shark Teeth

Some sharks have teeth but do not need them.

Species such as the whale shark or basking shark only feed off of plankton and do not need teeth to hunt their prey.

However, they still have teeth which means they serve no purpose in the shark’s mouth.

 

What Is The Largest Shark Tooth?

Megalodon Shark Tooth Fossil

 

Many people will find shark teeth on beaches, especially after storms.

However, shark teeth are all different sizes and shapes depending on the species of the shark.

The largest shark tooth that has been found was over 7 inches long.

This tooth belonged to the Megalodon shark, which is the largest shark ever recorded.

The Megladon had a bite force of up to 40,000 lbs. which is impressive compared to the Great White shark which has a bite force of up to 4,000 lbs.

The Megalodon species of shark has been extinct for a very long time and therefore their teeth are some of the rarest to come across if you are hunting for shark teeth.

 

How Do You Know If You Found A Megalodon Tooth?

Megalodon Shark Tooth and two Great White Shark Teeth

 

If you happen to come across a shark tooth, you will probably wonder what species of shark it belongs to.

A Megalodon tooth will be somewhat distinguishable from other species due to its enormous size.

Most Megalodon teeth are at least 3.5 inches in length and can be upwards of 7 inches long.

If you find a tooth that is this size, it is likely to have belonged to a Megalodon shark.

 

How Do Shark Teeth Fossilize?

Close up of a pile of Shark's Teeth

 

Shark teeth fossilize through a process called permineralization.

Once the teeth fall out of the shark’s mouth they will sink to the bottom of the ocean.

The water will then move the sediment around and over the tooth.

The minerals from the sediment will then seep into the tooth and fill the pore spaces which will cause it to fossilize.

The fossilization process takes at least 10,000 years.

 

How Can You Tell How Old Shark Teeth Are?

Shark teeths close up in fisherman hand

 

It can be extremely difficult to tell exactly how old shark teeth are.

If they are fossilized, this can mean that they are potentially anywhere from 10,000 years old to tens of millions of years old.

A good way to try to determine the age of a shark tooth is to take a sample of the sediment in which the tooth was found.

This can be tested to determine the approximate age.

However, if the shark tooth was just found washed up on a beach, the sediment would not be helpful.

Some experts that work with shark teeth frequently can determine the species of shark that the tooth came from and can then give an approximate age of the tooth.

 

Why Are Some Shark Teeth Black?

shark teeth

 

Shark teeth are different colors due to the sediment that they are mixed in with.

This is why shark teeth are not all white.

Some will be lighter in color, but others can be brown or black.

When a shark tooth sits at the bottom of the ocean, it will begin to absorb the sediment around it, which is what will cause the color change.

The color that the shark tooth turns into is determined by where it settles, and the minerals that it is absorbing.

 

How Have Humans Used Shark Teeth?

teeth of prehistoric shark

 

For many years shark teeth were used by humans as weapons.

This can be traced back many years.

Shark teeth were something that humans could find and would wrap leather around to be used to hunt and fight.

Due to their sharpness, they provided excellent weapons.

Shark teeth were also traded back in the day.

There were many unique shark teeth, and they could be considered a special item to own, which led to some people trading them and selling them.

 

Are Shark Teeth Worth Money?

Modern Shark teeth

 

Certain types of shark teeth can be worth a good amount of money.

This is all dependent on the type of shark that the tooth belongs to.

Because sharks lose such a high number of teeth regularly, finding shark teeth is not necessarily uncommon.

Many people find small to average-sized shark teeth in the ocean and on beaches all across the world each year.

However, if someone found a shark tooth that belonged to a Megladon that could potentially be worth thousands versus finding a shark tooth that belonged to a Great White or bull shark which would not be worth much at all.

 

Where Are The Best Spots To Find Shark Teeth?

tooth of an ancient shark

 

Shark teeth can be found almost anywhere in the ocean or washed up on many beaches if you are lucky, but some beaches are better for finding shark teeth.

Caspersen Beach in Florida is a great place to find shark teeth, and many people have had a great deal of luck when searching for shark teeth in the area.

It is typically a quiet beach so you can easily go and spend your time looking for shark teeth.

Casey Key is a barrier island in Florida that is located south of Siesta Key.

This is another popular area for finding shark teeth, and many people travel there for just that reason.

Amelia Island is off the coast of Florida and has been shown to be an excellent spot for shark tooth hunting.

There is a lot of dredging that happens in a shipping channel nearby which stirs up the shark teeth at the bottom of the ocean.

In turn, this pushes these shark teeth to the shore where they can easily be found.

Shark Tooth Beach on Jekyll Island in Georgia is a hidden gem and one of the least visited beaches on Jekyll Island.

However, it has been a prime spot for people to find Megalodon shark teeth over the years.

One of the best times to visit Shark Tooth Beach is during low tide so you have more exposed shoreline and areas to hunt.

This beach is also known to be a great spot to find unique shells.

 

When Can You Find Shark Teeth?

Shark Tooth in Beach Sand

 

The best time to discover shark teeth is usually once the ocean is dredged or there is a storm.

These occurrences will stir up the ocean water and cause the shark teeth to drift ashore, making them easier to find than when they are buried on the ocean floor.

If you are trying to decide on the best time of day to find shark teeth, you will want to look at the tide in the area you are in.

Low tide will give you the best opportunity to find items such as shells and shark teeth.

 

Conclusion

The number of teeth sharks have will depend on the specific species of shark, but all sharks have multiple rows of teeth and will regenerate teeth as needed.

Sharks can have 50 to 350 teeth at one time, and the whale shark has the highest number of teeth with up to 3,000 teeth at one time.


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