Most dolphins have equal-sized conical shaped teeth in both upper and lower jaws (porpoises’ teeth are spade-shaped) perfect for grasping fish and squid. Like most mammals, newborn dolphin teeth are still embedded in the gums. Their teeth will start erupting in the first 5 weeks of life.
Dolphins have one set of teeth to last their whole lifetime and the number of teeth varies considerably from species to species. The long-beaked common dolphin has more teeth than any other dolphin with up to 240. Risso’s dolphins have the fewest; they have between 4 and 14 teeth in their lower jaw only. Risso’s favourite food is squid which they suck into their mouths. Amazon River dolphins (botos) have between 100-140 teeth and uniquely they include molar shaped teeth at the back as well as the conical ones at the front. Botos have a particularly varied diet including more than 40 fish species as well as crabs, snails and even turtles which they crunch using their molars!
Bottlenose dolphins have between 80 and 100 teeth.
Although all dolphins are equipped with teeth not all species use their teeth for eating prey or tearing flesh. Most use their teeth to grab, grip and secure prey and then swallow it whole—head first.
Amazing facts about whales and dolphins
Dive deeper into the world of whales and dolphins and learn more about their lives.
Facts about whales
Amazing facts about whales, the largest mammals to live on Earth.
Facts about dolphins
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