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Pacific Lingcod, an Omnivorous Fish, Gains and Loses 20 Teeth Each Day

The Pacific lingcod is an ill-tempered, omnivorous fish with a mouth like a messy silverware drawer, its 500-plus teeth arranged haphazardly on two sets of highly mobile jaws. New research, published this month in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, reveals that the Pacific lingcod gains and loses an average of 20 teeth every day. From a report: If humans had the same dental scheme, we’d replace a tooth daily. “Kind of makes braces useless,” says Adam Summers, professor of biology at the University of Washington and co-author of the study. “And brushing.” The Pacific lingcod’s rate of tooth replacement came as a surprise to researchers, says study co-author Karly Cohen, a PhD student at the University of Washington studying the biomechanics of feeding.

“The existing research we have on tooth replacement comes from oddballs,” Cohen says, such as anglerfish that grow teeth on their foreheads, or the piranha, which can lose a quarter of its teeth at a time. “But most fish have teeth like lingcod. And so it could very well be that most fishes are losing mass amounts of their teeth daily” and replacing them quickly, like this species, she adds. The Pacific lingcod is an ornery sportfish about four feet long at adulthood, an ambush predator that frequently indulges in cannibalism. It’s found on the North American west coast, from Alaska to Baja California, Mexico, and it’s economically important to fishers in part because it’s “great in a taco,” Cohen says.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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