The deep sea continues to be a mysterious realm with creatures yet to be identified and understood. One such mysterious marine animal identified by scientists happens to be the Pacific lingcod whose scientific name is Ophiodon elongatus. A study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. in October had described Pacific lingcod as a predatory fish found in the north Pacific. The ferocious-looking fish which can grow up to a metre in length, and could weigh about 36 kilograms, feeds on whatever creatures it can fit inside its mouth. The study mentions that its jaws are powerful enough to break through the shells of armoured crabs and other crustaceans. When you read jaws you may have been reminded of sharks, but this predatory fish comes with a unique set of teeth. Instead of incisors, molars and canines, Pacific lingcod are armoured with hundreds of sharp, near-microscopic teeth on their jaws. Layered behind one set of jaws lies another set of accessory jaws, which the researchers describe as pharyngeal jaws. The study mentions that the fish use it to chew food much in the same way humans use molars. It is not just their teeth, but even their palate which is also covered in hundreds of tiny dental stalactites.
In total, the fish have 500 sharp teeth in multiple rows, which they use to attack their prey and shred them into tiny pieces. The dental mechanism of the fish gets more complicated, as the study adds in order to make sure their teeth are up to the task, they lose and replace about 20 teeth every day. Speaking to CBC, co-author Karly Cohen, a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington, said “For you and me, that basically looks like losing a tooth every single morning. Like, we’d wake up and a tooth would be gone and then it would come back. It’s nuts.”
The study also mentioned that there is no correlation between the loss of teeth and the consumption of prey. According to the study, there is no difference between tooth replacement rates of feeding and non-feeding fish. This hints that feeding is not the main driver of tooth replacement.