You may have learned that one way to tell crocodiles and alligators apart is whether their bottom teeth are showing. But did you know that both alligators and crocodiles have more teeth growing inside those teeth? Photos of the cross-section of a crocodile skull from the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, were posted on Twitter. In case their huge teeth weren’t scary enough, now there’s twice as many!
In case you did ever wonder how crocodiles do regrow their teeth: Here´s a cross-section of a crocodile´s upper jaw which shows how the replacement teeth starts to grow on the base and within the roots of the erupted teeth. #Senckenberg Museum Frankfurt. pic.twitter.com/0i7bbwxmMC— Markus Bühler (Bestiarium-Blog) (@MarkusBhler10) April 7, 2022
Alligators and crocodiles use their formidable teeth to tear into prey. They often lose some in the process. Unlike humans, they are able to regrow their teeth many times over the course of their life. The replacements grow inside the main set so the animal isn’t left completely without a tooth when one gets ripped out. This also means that the those that do fall out are mostly hollow.
Sharks are another predator that lose teeth while tearing through prey. Instead of teeth inside other teeth, sharks have many waves of teeth in their mouths ready to replace any they lose. Many mammals, including humans, have only one replacement set of teeth. Elephants, kangaroos, and manatees have multiple sets of replacement molars that grow in as they wear them out over the course of their lifetime.
If the photos give you nightmares, balance it out with this video of cute baby crocs making cute baby noises. Or by thinking about how Alligator Loki had a stuffed animal stand-in on set. Or that, in the comics, Thor straps him to his chest like a baby and totes him around Asgard. Would Thor be more scared of Alligator Loki if he knew about the teeth within teeth?
Other ways to tell alligators and crocodiles apart include snout shape, coloration, and habitat. And, of course, whether you’ll see them later or in a while.