Do sea turtles have teeth?


Turtles have beaks that are uniquely adapted for the diet of each species


Early turtles that lived 220 million years ago had peg-like teeth sprouting from their upper jaw, but these teeth were lost in the process of evolution. A newly hatched turtle has an ‘egg tooth’, which is a tough pad in the mouth made from a specialised scale.

It isn’t a true tooth and disappears in the first few months of life, and helps a hatchling crunch up corals and other hard food before their beak toughens.

Green turtles eat a diet of sea grass and their beaks have serrated edges to help shear plants from the seabed. Loggerhead turtles have developed extremely strong beaks to crush hard-shelled prey. Leatherback turtles have sharp, pointed cusps to grip and pierce jellyfish, along with backwards-facing spines to help transport food to the stomach.


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Image: Tchami