American Oceans

Do Sea Turtles Have Teeth?

No, turtles do not have teeth but there are fossils of turtle teeth! Odontochelys (or the ‘toothed turtle’) was a creature that existed about 200 million years ago.

large leatherback turtle on the beach

It was discovered in their fossilized remains that this early ancestor of the modern turtle had teeth in both its upper and lower jaw.

Modern-day Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta Caretta) are carnivorous, however, and the largest Loggerheads turtles can weigh up to 450kg. To put that in perspective, that’s about the size of a dairy cow.

Still, turtles have beaks rather than teeth, and with their strong jaw muscles and tough beaks, carnivorous turtles can crush the shells of their crustacean prey like crabs, sea urchins, and clams. 

sea turtle swimming in the ocean

Baby turtles do have what’s called an ‘egg-tooth’ or caruncle but this doesn’t resemble a tooth. It’s actually a small bump made from the same protein our fingernails are made from – keratin. 

A big danger to sea turtles is plastic waste. This is because they swallow food without chewing, so mistaking a plastic bag for a jellyfish can be fatal. 

Add comment