Category: Author: Infinity Dental Web
What is a Pacu?
Not many people in America know about the Pacu, a South American fresh water fish. They are in the same family as their more famous cousins, the Piranha, but instead of eating meat they stick to plants and vegetation. Because they are not ripping through meat on a daily basis, they don’t have sharp teeth like Piranha’s, instead they have flatter, duller teeth that can grind fibrous plants. The crazy thing about their teeth, though, is they look very similar to human teeth. They have the same shape and can grow to roughly the same size, which makes looking at pictures of them off-putting.
They sound harmless but creepy?
For the most part they are harmless. They are a fairly easy fish to raise in an aquarium, and because of their oddness they are sold all over the world. However, like many exotic pets, people who buy them are not always prepared to raise them once they reach adulthood. Pacu’s can grow to be almost four feet long, which requires an enormous aquarium. Not surprisingly they have started showing up in rivers and lakes in North America and Europe. At this point, many readers are probably thinking that they have heard this story before. A non-native fish enters into a new environment and because they have no natural predators, they wreck the local food chain and threaten to crowd out native species. However, this is not the Pacu’s story. Animals that eat big fish like to eat Pacus and as a species they are not crowding anyone out. The problem with Pacus is that they like to nibble on humans. They do not have good eyesight, and have been known to bite-off fingers and toes (and anything else that dangles and floats in the water and looks like a tasty morsel). So the next time you go fishing if you catch one of these do not release it no matter how nicely it smiles at you.
The opposite case of teeth in the animal kingdom
If the Pacu is interesting because its teeth are reminiscent of human teeth, the Narwhal is interesting because its teeth are so different than ours. In fact, most Narwhals have only one tooth, you guessed it, the long tusk that extends from the top of their heads. It is actually a modified right canine tooth that grows outward and can reach a length of several feet. Occasionally a Narwhal’s left canine tooth will also grow into a horn, which creates the rare double horned Narwhal.
Narwhal’s use their horn/tooth for all kinds of things. They fight other Narwhals, they defend themselves from predators, and occasionally use it to break up the ice that forms on the Arctic Ocean where they live.
When these animals were first spotted by sailors nobody believed that they existed. Descriptions of them sounded too much like a swimming unicorn, so people naturally assumed that they were made up. It was not until sailors were able to capture one and bring it home that their existence was acknowledged by the scientific community.
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