The teeth of the crocodile

January 30, 2018

Nile crocodile in the Selous Game Reserve, southern Tanzania - photo by David Liebst


Crocodiles have some of the strongest bite forces in the animal kingdom.

The teeth on the lower jaw of a crocodile fit into grooves on the outside of the top jaw making both the upper and lower teeth visible when the mouth is closed.[01]


Crocodiles are  able to replace each of their approximately 80 teeth up to 50 times in their 35 to 75-year lifespan.[02] They are the only non-mammalian vertebrates with tooth sockets.[03] Next to each full-grown tooth there is a small replacement tooth and an odontogenic stem cell in the dental lamina in standby, which can be activated when required.[04]Tooth replacement slows significantly and eventually stops as the animal grows old.[05]


Crocodile lying with mouth open to maintain cool temperature - photo by David Liebst in Selous


Photo showing holes in upper lip of crocodile - by Zach Mligo of Lake Manze Camp, Selous


  1. Grigg, Gordon; Kirshner, David (2015). Biology and Evolution of Crocodylians. CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 9781486300662.

  2.  Nuwer, Rachel (13 May 2013). "Solving an alligator mystery may help humans regrow lost teeth". Retrieved 4 November 2013.

  3. LeBlanc, A. R. H.; Reisz, R. R. (2013). Viriot, Laurent, ed. "Periodontal ligament, cementum, and alveolar bone in the oldest herbivorous tetrapods, and their evolutionary significance". PLoS ONE. 8 (9): e74697. Bibcode:2013PLoSO...874697L. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074697. PMC 3762739 . PMID 24023957.

  4. Wu, Ping; Wu, Xiaoshan; Jiang, Ting-Xin; Elsey, Ruth M.; Temple, Bradley L.; Divers, Stephen J.; Glenn, Travis C.; Yuan, Kuo; Chen, Min-Huey; Widelitz, Randall B.; Chuon, Cheng-Ming (2013). "Specialized stem cell niche enables repetitive renewal of alligator teeth" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110 (22): E2009–E2018. Bibcode:2013PNAS..110E2009W. doi:10.1073/pnas.1213202110. PMC 3670376 . PMID 23671090. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-04.

  5.  Grigg and Gans, pp. 227–228.










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