The ocean is filled with fascinating animals with fascinating teeth.
Take the titan triggerfish for example, which has teeth almost comically similar to humans’, used for cracking open crustaceans (and, sometimes, for biting divers who get too close to their eggs). Or, peer into the mouth of an umbrella slug (through a microscope, of course!), and you’ll find a conveyor belt-esque set of teeth. Believe it or not, the umbrella slug mouth is host to around 750,000 teeth in a lifetime – the most of any animal on land or in the sea.
But one of the strangest-looking mouths is that of the deep sea goblin shark. This interesting yet terrifying animal looks like it was pulled directly from Ridley Scott’s Alien, with a jaw that “slingshots” forward to grab prey.
Do You Kiss Your Mother with That Mouth?
They may not boast the elegance of a tiger or the softness of a chinchilla, but you can’t deny evolution has done right by the goblin shark. They thrust their jaws forward at a speed of 3.1 meters per second, faster than any other shark, and extend their jaw forward as much as 9.4 percent of their entire body length. This is useful because, due to their extreme environment, goblin sharks see poorly and swim slowly. Their quick-snapping jaws make up for their shortcomings, snagging prey that would otherwise be out of reach. However, they only have 26 upper teeth and 24 lower teeth, which means most other sharks have them beat in this area: great whites have about 300 teeth, bull sharks have around 350 and nurse sharks have thousands.
Luckily, you don’t need to worry about running into the goblin shark in a back alley; they live in the dark depths of the ocean, deeper than you’re likely to swim, even in scuba gear, and there are no reported accounts of goblin sharks attacking humans.
Don’t Bite Like a Goblin
Goblin sharks like dark, deep environments, so not much is known about our Xenomorph-esque friend. However, we do know that the average human mouth opens at about a 50 degree angle. The goblin shark, on the other hand, easily opens his mouth at 111 degrees before snapping down on its prey.Between his widely opening mouth and strange, protruding jaws, the goblin shark’s name suits his appearance. But one thing we do share with the goblin shark: our jaw is evolved to perform a complex set of motions.
Unfortunately, the complexity of our jaw joint makes it vulnerable to injury from trauma, or even from routine actions like yawning or eating a Dagwood sandwich. We humans should stick to our smaller-angled bite and a healthy jaw position. Sometimes, even the position of our jaw can lead to potential joint problems.
An underbite can cause undue wear and tear on the teeth. If your bottom and top front teeth touch when you eat or talk, you’re more likely to chip and wear down front teeth. An overbite is more likely to cause snoring, but your underbite can still lead to temporomandibular joint disorders, sleep apnea and other disorders that originate in the mouth.
We Can Correct Your Misaligned Bite
Hopefully, watching a video of a goblin shark biting down on his next meal doesn’t look like you while you eat. But if you frequently wake up with an achy head or jaw, experience lockjaw or jaw tightness, or you’re waking up tired despite getting a full eight hours, the problem may be starting in your jaw. If just looking at a goblin shark is making your jaw hurt, we can help.