It is not unusual for the weather in early March to be “biting cold.” So what better month to celebrate teeth? In this first part of the quiz, match the creatures listed here with the four statements just below them, then answer two toothy questions. Answers are below.
1. Other species are licked when it comes to which has the most teeth. My 14,000 teeth are arranged in rows on my tongue. But that’s nothing: Some of my cousins have more than 20,000 teeth!
2. You need a lot of magnification to see my 47 teeth.
3. Can’t be too careful; my teeth fold up like a pocketknife to prevent me from accidentally injecting myself with the venom I use to kill my prey.
4. Menhaden, anchovies and squid, beware! My sharp teeth, large mouth and strong jaws can easily make a meal of you. In fact, I’m so “mean” that I have been known to kill prey just because I can, even when I’m not hungry.
5. Domestic animals can get cavities; most wild animals don’t. Which two of these are the reason?
A. Most domestic animals’ diets are higher in sugar.
B. Wild animals chew on tree bark and bones, which can clean teeth much like a toothbrush or floss would.
C. Wild animals’ food contain large amounts of a cavity-preventing bacteria.
D. Centuries of breeding have inadvertently weakened domestic animals’ teeth.
6. What is an egg tooth?
A. This is a drill-like tooth used by egg eaters to suck the juices out of eggs.
B. This is an egg-shaped tooth found in some plant eaters to break down especially rough fiber in their diet.
C. This is a hard growth found on an embryonic reptile’s or bird’s jaw or beak that helps it break out of its egg.
D. This is the name of a sharp knob found at the end of some raptor eggs.
7. Frogs & Toads: One of us has no teeth and swallows its prey whole. One of us has pointy teeth on the roof of its mouth that help to hold onto prey while the tongue pulls it in. Which is which?
This part of the quiz lists the names of four types of mammalian teeth. Can you match them with their descriptions? Answers are below.
8. Herbivores use these wide, flat teeth, found far back in the mouth, to chew tough plant matter, as well as grass and leaves. In carnivores, they are used to crush bones.
9. These teeth, found in the front of the mouth, are used by herbivores to bite off vegetation. These teeth continue to grow throughout a rodent’s lifetime, but are worn down by the animal’s gnawing.
10. Carnivores bite and hold onto prey with these sharp teeth, which are found in the front of the mouth.
11. These sharp teeth, found in the middle of a carnivore’s mouth, shred prey into swallowable chunks.
12. The human mouth contains three of these four types of teeth. Which type of tooth is not found in a human’s mouth?
Answers: 1. Garden snail; 2. Mosquito; 3. Rattlesnake; 4. Bluefish; 5. A & B; 6. C; 7. A toad has no teeth; a frog does; 8. Molars; 9. Incisor; 10. Canines; 11. Carnassials; 12. Carnassials