Fascinating Animals

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Bits and Bites – Teeth: Part Three – Teeth Numbering & Cats and Dogs

How many teeth does a human adult have?


How many teeth does my cat have?


How many teeth does my dog have?


For diagrams of the teeth of cats, dogs, and horses, visit this wonderful page   here  ( URL below also ).


Universal Tooth Numbering System

A tooth numbering system is used by dentists for uniquely identifying and referring to a specific tooth. Over the years, over 20 different teeth numbering systems have been developed.

The modified Triadan system provides a consistent method of numbering teeth across different animal species. The system is based on the permanent dentition of the pig, which has 11 teeth in each quadrant – three incisors, one canine, four premolars and three molars. The grand total is 44 teeth.

The first digit of the modified Triadan system denotes the quadrant.The second and third digits denote the tooth position within the quadrant, with the sequence always starting at the midline.

See   here   for a pictorial explanation.  


Have you ever been to the dentist and wondered what all that mumbo-jumbo is that they say about the condition of your teeth?  I have been quite worried at times with all the talk something like “malocclusion at L8” and weird things like that.  All that I can understand is the word “missing” in terms of the fact that I have actually got 2 front teeth (the frist pre-molars on either side) missing.

Did you know that Orthodontistry is a specialized field of dentistry which deals with an improper bite?

There are Glossaries of dentist and orthodontist terms which may help to decipher some of this talk.



At the link below, there are fantastic pictures of the teeth of various animals.  Please have a look.


Last but not least (almost), click   here   to access a great PDF document by the National Science Teachers Association which explains how to identify skulls and teeth, including a Dichotomous Key !!  It is a Handout which should be used in conjunction with real skulls in the class-room / laboratory to identify using the Key, but I thought it was interesting and informative enough to include in this article.

I love Dichotomous Keys and have happy memories of using them when I was a Biology student at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University).  A Dichotomous Key presents the reader with two statements that describe certain characteristics. The statements should be mutually exclusive for the key to work efficiently. For example, ‘it is either red or it isn’t’. On selecting one, the reader is presented with the next couplet choice in the key and so on – to eventually arrive at an identification.

The handout gives a Key to identifying some North American mammals, but as you likely won’t actually have the physical specimen skulls in front of you, you could “google” and find images of the critters mentioned in the Key if you want to.  It is all very interesting, I think.   I love science.

Now, very last of all (I promise) is this interesting   online Picture Quiz   to see if you can identify the 19 skulls. 

You click on Play Game then click in a purple square and type in the number of the picture you think the Skull identifies, and will see if you are correct or not, and the clock will start ticking.  As of posting this, I have spent two minutes on this Puzzle and only identified 3 skulls (antelope, human and horn-bill), which is pretty woeful, especially given that the Game only gives you 3 minutes to complete it.  Not happy.  A tip is to open the Game in 2 windows and tile them, to make it (hopefully) easier to play the game.  Uncheck “Show Missed Answers” otherwise at the end of 3 minutes, the auto complete will fill in the answers, and that will stop you from trying again honestly.

Please post your results in a Comment on this thread if you like, or any other nice comments!!

Part One can be read    here.

Part Tw0 can be read    here.

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