Do Sperm Whales Have Teeth?

Yes, sperm whales do have teeth.

In fact sperm whales are the largest animals in the toothed whale family.

These whales can grow to lengths of up to 67 ft. long when fully matured and weigh up to 50 tons, however most sperm whales will grow between 50 ft. – 60 ft. long and weigh between 35 – 45 tons.

In addition to being the largest marine mammal among the toothed whale suborder the sperm whale also has one of the largest heads of all marine mammals which can comprise 1/3 of its entire body.

Although these whales possess teeth it is believed that their teeth may not play a major role in their hunting and eating process as some adult whales were found to have little or no visible teeth despite being in good health and fully matured.

Sperm whales are known to have 20 – 26 teeth on each side of their lower jaw with the teeth on the upper jaw rarely breaking through the surface.

The teeth on the upper jaw appear to show no use for hunting or capturing food, while the lower teeth may or may not assist with gripping onto prey.

Even with teeth sperm whales are known to commonly swallow their food without biting or tearing apart the flesh of their prey.

Some of the most common foods sperm whales consume include squid, sharks and various species of fish.

Because these whales dive to extreme depths when hunting for food, gathering information on their particular hunting methods has proven to be extremely difficult.

Most of what is known about their diet comes from examining the stomachs and intestines of these marine mammals.

When researching the hunting methods of sperm whales biologists and researchers have found scaring and wounds on the heads and bodies of sperm whales from fights these marine mammals have had when they were hunting for giant squid.

Just as it has been difficult to monitor their hunting methods it has also been difficult to gather information on the giant squids they hunt, so as stated earlier our understanding of their hunting methods comes from examining the insides of these marine mammals, as well as the scaring found on their bodies from their previous hunting expeditions.

One theory as to why sperm whales have teeth, but do not use them when hunting for food has to do with their evolutionary process.

As sperm whales evolved they developed different hunting and survival methods that do not require the use of their teeth, so over the course of millions of years their teeth have become less developed while other physiological components have continued to develop and thrive in order to help these marine mammals survive.

In conclusion, yes, sperm whales do have teeth, however whether or not their teeth play a major rule in the sperm whales hunting strategy isn’t fully known, but given the information that’s been gathered we can make a pretty strong assumption that their teeth aren’t likely to contribute a great deal towards their ability to successfully capture food.