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How Sawfish Are Born With All Their Teeth & Still Don't Hurt Mom

It would be quite a poky birth if not for this secret weapon.

Sawfish, which are known for their toothy saw-shaped noses, are actually born with that snout full of sharp teeth.

Poor Mom, right?


Well, fortunately for sawfish mothers, NOAA researcher Andrea Kroetz reports that their babies actually have a protective gel shield over those teeth. That way birth doesn't have to be a painful process.

A tooth sheath has never been more important.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the tissue layer goes away after two weeks.

It's then that the baby sawfish are able to use their teeth to their fullest extent.

To be totally clear, though, these rostrum (aka snout) weapons are not actually teeth like you have in your mouth. They're modified types of scales called dermal denticles.

Shark skin is also made up of pointy dermal denticles, seen here:

Sawfish have smaller regular teeth in their mouth, according to the FFWCC, and use those to break down their food further.

Meanwhile, the rostrum teeth continue growing throughout the sawfish's life, so if part of one cracks off, it will grow back. But the teeth are not replaced if they fully fall out.

You can see this sawfish is missing some near the tip of its nose.

As Azula previously reported, sawfish teeth can actually end up hurting not just their prey but also themselves. Their teeth are always on display and can easily get them caught in nets.

But as much trouble as their rostrums may cause them, those teeth are a necessary evil. After all, sawfish's sharp snouts are super important for their feeding process.

They slash up their dinner with these saws, as seen here:


After seeing that, we can totally understand why Mom grows them with that gel shield.

You do not want to be caught on the wrong end of those teeth. Ouch.


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