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Earth’s Tiny Creatures and Their Teeth

Have you ever read about the most dangerous mouths of the sea? What about the most unusual animal teeth in the world? It is exciting to explore and learn about incredible creatures dwelling on this planet, and we thought it would be fun to delve into the fun facts of some of the world’s amazing tiny creatures.

In this article, we’ll be getting to know 10 fascinating tiny creatures along with their dental structures. You might be learning about these creatures for the first time, so brace yourself and read on.

1. Philippine Tarsier

The Philippine tarsier may be the strangest monkey on the planet, with its super tiny body, bat-like ears, and bulging eyes. It's also the second-tiniest primate in the world, weighing three to five ounces and reaching a length of up to just six inches. Isn't that teeny-tiny? It's just about the size of an adult’s hand!

Because tarsier eyes are too large to spin in their sockets, the animal has the capacity to swivel its head nearly 180 degrees in each direction just to look around. Their big ears can detect high frequencies transmitted by their prey, and the structures swivel, allowing the tarsier to hear in all directions. Moreover, their long, bouncy legs allow them to hop lengths of up to five meters, and their fingertips are tipped with swelling pads that help them clasp trees.
About its teeth:
The tarsier dental formula,, is distinctive among primates, yet tarsier teeth have large upper central incisors, small lower incisors, and massive canines in overall proportions, similar to those of anthropoids.

Tarsiers are prosimians, or primitive monkeys, belonging to the Tarsiidae family and are found in Southeast Asian islands. They only have 34 teeth, compared to their closest prosimian relatives, lemurs and lorises, which have 36 teeth. Tarsiers also have an upper lip that is not connected to the gum underneath, allowing them to move their faces like primates, monkeys, and apes.

2. Pygmy Rabbit

The endangered pygmy rabbit, or Brachylagus idahoensis, is 9.25-11.6 inches (23.5-29.5 cm) in length and is found primarily on the West Coast of the United States. It is one of only two rabbits in North America that dig their own burrows, which are primarily employed for refuge, thermoregulation, and predator protection. These burrow structures are prevalent in mounds or gentle slopes.

The color of this rabbit is slate gray—however, it can turn brown throughout the summer. It has short ears and a practically undetectable tail that does not have the white pigmentation present in other rabbits. Pygmy rabbits prefer thick, dense sagebrush to live in, and sagebrush accounts for a large portion of their diet.
About its teeth:
Just like any rabbit, the pygmy rabbit possesses 28 permanent teeth. Rabbits have long, continually growing teeth that are extremely long above and below the gum line. The incisors, or front teeth, are the most visible, but rabbits also have molars at the back of their mouths. Their teeth will continue to grow to enormous lengths and their mouth and gums can be pierced by overgrown teeth, causing them a lot of pain and agony. Consequently, you must keep an eye on the rabbit's teeth to ensure they do not overgrow.

You can greatly help your pygmy rabbit (and any other pet rabbit) by providing hay, which naturally grinds their teeth as it chews. You can also use wood pieces, wooden hampers, and other cage furnishings to help rabbits clip their teeth.

3. Dwarf Lantern Shark

The dwarf lantern shark (Etmopterus perryi), known as the world’s tiniest shark, is about the size of a human hand. It has only been seen a few times off the northern tip of South America, at depths of 928–1,440 feet (283–439 meters), and little is known about it. The specimen shown above was discovered in 1985 at a depth of 290 meters in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Colombia.

The dwarf lantern shark, like other lantern sharks, has photophores (light-emitting organs) throughout its belly and fins. When they feed in shallower water, the lit-up belly blends in with sunlight coming down from above, which helps camouflage them. Smaller animals are attracted to the light in darker water, which aids this shark in capturing its prey.
About its teeth:
A dwarf lantern shark's teeth are made for slashing and cutting. The upper jaw has 25–32 tooth rows, whereas the lower jaw has 30–34 tooth rows. Adult males' upper teeth contain a single cusp flanked by two pairs of tiny cusplets, while females' upper teeth are more robust, with just one pair of lateral cusplets bordering the central cusp.

Each of the bottom teeth has a single, sharply angled cusp, and the bases of the teeth are linked to provide a seamless cutting edge.

4. Leopard Gecko

Leopard geckos are attractive tiny lizards that are widely kept as pets and are naturally found in Asia. They are a nocturnal species, which means they are most active when the sun sets and return to their burrow as the sun rises. In captivity, they frequently abandon this behavior and become more active throughout the day. Almost every leopard gecko will live a sedentary lifestyle during the day and run around at night.

Owning a leopard gecko is a major commitment because they can grow to be 6 to 10 inches long and live for 10 to 20 years in captivity. They like to live alone, but if treated cautiously, they can become accustomed to being handled as a pet.

The eyes of a healthy gecko are clear and bright, and the tail is thick. Only while it is resting should its belly touch the ground.

Pet leopard geckos need a cage that simulates their native environment, with hiding spots along with low, robust branches or rocks for climbing. The floor covering must also be natural to reduce the risk of impaction, a potentially fatal condition in which particles become trapped inside your gecko's abdomen and cause airway obstruction.
About its teeth:
Polyphyodonts are animals whose teeth are constantly replaced, and leopard geckos are classified under this category. Each tooth in a leopard gecko is replaced every three to four months. Unlike most other lizards, these geckos have rows of teeth in their mouth. New generations of teeth are regularly created inside these rows throughout their lives. And guess what? They have a total of 100 teeth!

The presence of stem cells in the dental lamina of leopard geckos could explain their continuous tooth development. As a result, leopard geckos' ability to continuously develop new teeth shows that their epithelial stem cells can divide multiple times to form new sets of teeth.

5. Bee Hummingbird

Known as the world's tiniest bird, the bee hummingbird is a legendary nectar sipper. It eats woodland flowers, particularly those with a more horizontal arrangement. Males are frequently seen resting on exposed high branches and they are a beautiful variety given their iridescent red head and blue upperparts.

The female bee hummingbird, on one hand, has a turquoise top and a pale grey underside. This species is easily distinguished by its small size and short bill. The sound of their wings in flight is similar to that of a bumblebee, hence its name. A lengthy, high-pitched, jumbled tweet is its most common sound.
About its teeth:
Some male hummingbirds bite other birds with their saw-like teeth and hooked tips. Males intruding their territory are stabbed, bit, and feathered by these birds. Their pointed bills make it easier to pierce the flesh and stab through a protective layer of feathers. To bite and pluck feathers, these birds use their saw-like "teeth" along the edges of their bills.

6. Nutria

Nutria are web-footed mice that are more agile in the water than on land, and they live in enormous colonies. They always dwell in holes, or nests, near the water. Nutria can live on a riverbank or shoreline, or in the midst of marshes, among other places. These swimming rodents are powerful, and they can stay submerged for up to five minutes.
About its teeth:
Nutria's most intriguing feature is their orange teeth! Nutrias' teeth are not only bright orange, but they also protrude forward. As long as they live, their large incisors will never stop growing. Youngsters are born with white incisors that turn orange as they grow older.

It's not a coincidence that their teeth are orange. Their enamel contains a pigment made of mineral iron, which gives them their color. The mineral iron content gives their teeth a stronger and stiffer texture, allowing the smoother back parts to grind down more quickly. All of this results in the teeth taking on a chisel-like shape that substantially enhances gnawing.

7. Dragonfish

The deep sea dragonfish, also known as the scaleless dragonfish, is a vicious predator that lives in the world's deepest oceans. Its scientific name is Grammatostomias flagellibarba, and it has enormous teeth in comparison to its body size.

Despite its horrible appearance, it is a little fish that only measures approximately 6 inches (15 centimeters) in length. Dragonfish come in a variety of shapes and sizes. All of them have a striking resemblance to each other.

This dragonfish is one of many deep sea fish species that can make their own light using a chemical process called bioluminescence. A specific organ called a photophore produces the light. These flashing lights are thought to be used by the fish to attract prey and perhaps communicate possible mates in the dark seas.

About its teeth:
The dragonfish has a huge head and mouth, both of which are lined with sharp, fang-like teeth. It also has a lengthy protrusion on its chin called a “barbel.” When an unwary fish approaches too close, the dragonfish snaps it up in its formidable jaws. The dragonfish's enormous teeth aid in the capture of its food as it hunts in the deep sea's dark waters. It eats small fish and crabs, as well as whatever else it can get its hands on.

8. Naked Mole-Rat

The skin of naked mole-rats is wrinkled pink or grayish-pink on the undersides and pale purplish-brown on the backs and tails. With increasing age, this countershading appears to be lost. Naked mole-rats typically measure 3 inches (7.5 cm) in length and weigh 1-1.5 ounces (28-42 grams). Soldiers, on the other hand, can weigh up to 2 ounces (57 grams), while the queen, the colony's largest member, can weigh up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams).

Furthermore, they don't have external ears and their eyes are small, hence, they are considered virtually blind. Their sense of smell is vital, and they are also quite sensitive to ground vibrations and air current movement.

About its teeth:
A naked mole-rat can move both of its front teeth separately like chopsticks. Yes, like chopsticks! These rats live underground in a complex of tunnels and chambers that extend up to 8 feet (2.5 meters) beneath the soil surface.

Their chisel-like, ever-growing incisor teeth, which are really located beyond the mouth (extra buccal), and huge and powerful masseter jaw muscles are used to dig these tunnels. Their lips are really closed while they dig with their teeth, keeping soil from entering their mouth.

9. Yellow Boxfish

The Polka-dot Boxfish, also known as Yellow Boxfish, has a body that is almost precisely shaped like a cube. It has dark-blue dots and is yellow or cream in hue. As they become older, their bodies get more elongated and their hue changes to yellow-green. The specks turn white and are surrounded by blue rings.

About its teeth:
These fish have large teeth that they use to scrape algae (which contains a variety of microorganisms), tunicates, and sponges from rocks. Their teeth will continue to grow throughout their lives, which is why some hard shelled foods are in their diet. If you keep them as pets, providing live ghost shrimp and several live snails on a regular basis will prevent their teeth from wearing down.

10. Goosander Tooth Duck

These attractive diving ducks belong to the sawbill family, which gets its name from the long, serrated bills that they use to capture fish. The goosander, a mostly freshwater bird, was first bred in the United Kingdom in 1871. It grew in numbers in Scotland, then moved over northern England and Wales, eventually reaching southwest England, beginning in 1970.

Male goosanders have white bodies, dark green heads, black backs, and long, hooked red bills. A pink glow can be seen on the white sides and breasts. In contrast, females have a white throat and a gingery or reddish-brown head.

About its teeth:
The goosander appears to be an ordinary duck at first glance. However, this species is a little unusual. It possesses more than 150 sharp teeth along the edges of its long beak. These teeth turn out to be exactly what the huge duck needs to grab a slick fish supper.

Its passion for salmon and trout has caused it to clash with fishermen. It's a convivial bird that gathers in flocks of thousands in several parts of Europe.

So those are 10 of the world’s amazing tiny creatures along with their unique dental structures. Is it your first time hearing about some of them? If so, you can learn more about them by following the links, researching about their origin, or you can visit these tiny creatures at some designated animal conservation parks, zoos, or aquariums where they are well-taken care of- or you can even keep some of these species as pets!

At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.

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