However, there are some lesser-known creatures whose mouths are equally as ᴜɴɴᴇʀᴠing as that of the prominent sea ᴘʀᴇᴅᴀᴛᴏʀ. Have you ever caught a glimpse of the humanlike pearly whites of a pacu fish? What about the protrusible jaw of a goblin shark?
Here are nine animal mouths that will put you on edge.
- Leatherback Sea Turtle
Reminiscent of something out of “Star Wars,” the inside of a leatherback sea turtle’s gullet appears to be full of teeth. In fact, they are actually papillae, backward-facing cartilage spikes that line the turtle’s entire esophagus.
Leatherback sea turtles use their barbed throats to consume — and keep hold of — their primary ᴘʀᴇʏ: jellyfish. The papillae ᴛʀᴀᴘ the jellyfish, preventing them from slipping out when the turtle opens its mouth.
- Goblin Shark
At first glance, the goblin shark is an ugly creature. Its nail-like teeth and blank stare are outshined only by its long, flat snout, reminiscent of a broad sword blade. However, it’s the goblin shark’s mouth that sparks fᴇᴀʀ.
Its jaws are high protrusible, meaning they can dislodge and project out. This ability is used during feeding when the goblin shark will extend its jaw to the end of its long snout to gʀᴀʙ fish — and fast. In fact, they execute this “slingS.H.O.T feeding” technique at 10 feet per second, the fastest movement of its kind ever recorded of a fish.
It’s useful that goblin sharks’ jaws are so quick beᴄᴀᴜsᴇ they allow for ambushing ᴘʀᴇʏ when they themselves are sluggish, slow swimmers.
The mouth of a hippopotamus is sᴄᴀʀʏ not beᴄᴀᴜsᴇ of how it looks but beᴄᴀᴜsᴇ of what it can do. These animals are known for their wide yawns where their jaws can open to almost a full 180 degrees. The yawns are primarily used for ɪɴᴛɪᴍɪᴅᴀᴛion, which makes sense considering the large animal’s territorial nature.
While the hippos jaw can open wide, it can also close with a lot of power. The fᴏʀᴄᴇ of their ʙɪᴛᴇ measures approxiᴍᴀᴛᴇly 1,800 pound-fᴏʀᴄᴇ per square inch, which places them among the strongest ʙɪᴛᴇs in the animal kingdom.
Despite all this, however, hippos are herbivorous, so you don’t have to worry much about one ʙɪᴛing after you.
The hagfish is an eel-shaped fish with a cartilage sᴋᴜʟʟ but no spine. While known for its excessive production of slime as a ᴅᴇfᴇɴsᴇ mechanism, its mouth should not be ignored.
Surrounding the mouth are four sensing tentacles. Though the hagfish does not have a jaw, it does possess two pairs of comb-shaped teeth that are used for feeding on the ᴄᴀʀᴄᴀsses of ᴅᴇᴀᴅ fish. They rip away chunks of flesh or burrow directly into the ᴘʀᴇʏ to access its innards, and then consume it from the inside out.
Lamᴘʀᴇʏs might be jawless, but that doesn’t make their thorny, suction cup-like mouths any less fʀɪɢʜᴛening. This parasitic fish uses its mouth like a funnel, targeting an animal’s body and using its teeth to cut through surface tissues, then sucking out the ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ and body fʟᴜɪᴅ.
However, while lamᴘʀᴇʏs may appear chilling, humans actually have the upper hand on them. They are commonly used in research beᴄᴀᴜsᴇ the simplicity of their brain is thought to reflect the brain structure of the earliest ᴠᴇʀᴛᴇʙʀᴀᴛᴇs. They are even enjoyed as food by humans all around the world.
- Vᴀᴍᴘɪʀᴇ Fish
Though more commonly known as payara, one look at the teeth on this fish and you can see why they’re also named after ᴠᴀᴍᴘɪʀᴇs. The fangs that protrude from their lower lips are so long (up to 6 inches) that the fish require specialized pockets in their sᴋᴜʟʟs to holster them in and prevent them from stabbing themselves.
They use their ᴍᴏɴsᴛʀᴏᴜs teeth to skewer fish before eating them. However, they don’t typically go after anything that’s too big to swallow, so consider yourself safe.
Mandrills are colorful priᴍᴀᴛᴇs with faces seemingly ᴘᴀɪɴted like a clown, but their mouths are much less of a joke. Their enormous canine teeth can grow to 2 inches long.
However, as sᴄᴀʀʏ as these teeth appear to be, mandrills likely have little intention of using them ᴀɢᴀɪɴsᴛ you. While mandrills do use them for self-ᴅᴇfᴇɴsᴇ, the surprisingly omnivorous priᴍᴀᴛᴇs more likely bare them to each other as a means of friendly communication.
- Pacu Fish
Though the pacu fish is a relative of the piranha, the two do not share teeth. Instead, the teeth of this South American species are eerily human.
Like humans, pacu fish are omnivores, though they maintain a mostly herbivorous ᴅɪᴇt. They feed primarily on fruit and nuts that fall into the water, using their anthropomorphic teeth to crack shells when necessary. To do this, they utilize their impressively strong jaw.
Pacu fish are generally non-ᴀɢɢʀᴇssɪᴠᴇ and are commonly kept as pets before they grow too big.
Like the leatherback sea turtle, the tiger also sports needle-like papillae in its mouth. However, for the big cat, these sharp barbs are found on the tongue.
Tigers use the papillae on their tongues to strip fur, feathers, and meat from their ᴘʀᴇʏ. Like household cats, it also helps the tiger with grooming. The effectiveness of this ʜᴀʀsʜ tongue has even inspired grooming products used by humans.