Chew on This!

Photo © Robert Rattner

Q. Do manatees have teeth?
--Megan Miller, California

A manatee skull.

A. Manatees do indeed have teeth. In fact, one of the most interesting things about manatees is that they keep replacing their teeth as long as they live.

Except for the first three teeth to erupt in each row, all of their teeth are molars. Called "marching molars," their teeth are unique because they are constantly replaced. New teeth form at the back of the jaw, wear down as they move forward, and eventually fall out. This constant tooth replacement is an adaptation to the manatee's diet, which often includes abrasive plants that are mixed with sand.

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