A dull tooth makes for sad hunting in the seas — just ask the Pacific lingcod fish!
According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, these toothy predators keep their megawatt smiles sharp by shedding and replacing their 555 teeth at a rate of 20 teeth per day!
Found in the North Pacific from Baja, California, all the way up to the Gulf of Alaska, the ferocious Pacific lingcod fish spend their days skulking around the seas searching for salmon, rockfish, crabs, herring, and small octopuses to devour with their sharp, pointy chompers.
Keeping their teeth sharp is the key to getting a tight grip on their diverse treats, and since they can’t exactly use a nail file to do so, their natural replacement process comes in handy — or mouthy, if you will.
With two sets of jaws, there’s ample space to house their teeny tiny teeth. The main oral jaws serve to catch the prey, while the second set — or “pharyngeal” jaws — have layers of needle-like teeth for crushing, chewing, and digesting.
Though sharks are also known for having multiple rows of teeth, with whale sharks boasting an impressive 3,000 teeth, lingcod have an entirely different mouth shape than those jaw-some creatures. This oddity prompted University of Washington doctoral candidate Karly Cohen and University of South Florida undergrad student Emily Carr to do a deep dive into the tooth about these teeth!
The students began their study at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories by placing 20 Pacific lingcod fish in tanks infused with red dye to stain their teeth. After 10 days, the fish were transferred into a different tank for another 10 days, one infused with green dye. At the end of the experiment, new growth could be easily identified by the color of each tooth.
Carr took their research a step further by counting the ratio of red to green under a microscope in a dark room, ultimately calculating that the fish teeth get replaced at a rate comparable to if humans lost a tooth and grew it back the same day!
If you think regrowing a tooth a day sounds painful, allow us to remind you about the seven-year-old boy who had 526 teeth removed from beneath his gumline in 2019!
Our jaws hurt just thinking about all these teeth!
By Meghan Yani, contributor for Ripleys.com