Re: sperm whale teeth

From: Nancy Stevick (
Date: Thu Feb 10 2000 - 07:12:12 EST

On 8 February, Dr. Dave wrote:

Subject: sperm whale teeth

>What is the specific anatomy of the whale tooth. I had a patient who does
>scrimshaw and he was telling me that his information shows the outer layer
>the whale tooth to be cementum. Of course, in humans the outer layer of
>root is cementum, but the outer layer of the crown of the tooth is enamel.
>Could you enlighten me? I'm a dentist so I have an added interest.
>dr dave
Dear Dr Dave,

Your patient was correct. The outer layer of sperm whales' teeth is
cementum. They do have a small amount of enamel at the tip of the tooth,
but it is covered with cementum. If you want to read more about whale
teeth, I would recommend obtaining a copy of The International Whaling
Commission's Special Issue 3 on Age Determination of Toothed Whales and
Sirenians. You should be able to get a copy through interlibrary loan
through a university library.

Nancy Stevick

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