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Zoology/whose tooth?


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Dear Chris,

please could you tell me to which animal the tooth as in the pictures attached could belong to? It was brought to my house in 1992, on Mt.Rhodes, Hout Bay, South Africa  by my dog one day.
I suspect an Orca as I have seen some nearby in the sea.
Its size is 18cm and weight 627grs.
Thanks for your opinion.

I cannot completely rule out the possibility that it may be a tooth from a squid eating Sperm Whale(Physeter macrocephalus), but I believe it is indeed a tooth from a modern orca or killer whale (Orcinus orca), designed to crush and kill large fish and other marine mammals.

As orcas are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, as well as several international laws, such items are protected by international trade laws, and orca products and parts are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix I.  This item has been under legal protection since the 1970's, and it is illegal for you to sell or buy it!  Cool collectors item, huh?  Priceless!

Put it in a box with cotton, and a label, or better yet, put it in a display case.

Hope this helped.  Take care of the tooth!



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I can answer a wide variety of questions about general evolution or ecology. I can identify wild reptiles and amphibians based on moderate to high quality descriptions or photos, and I can provide information about species' habitats, behaviors, ranges, etc.


I am an academic, and have published on paleontology, evolution and ecology; and have professionally studied nearly all major vertebrate groups; sharks and other fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. I have conducted professional field research on reptiles and amphibians, as well as many other animals. "Herping" and nature photography have always been some of my favorite hobbies.

B.S. General Biology, William Paterson University. Currently working towards a Ph.D. at University of North Texas.

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