Imagine how you would feel living in the wild with potential danger lurking around every corner. Maybe someone would try to take your mate, steal your food, or sneak up on you to see if you were tasty. That’s how wild animals feel every minute of every day. Luckily, they have developed several defense mechanisms to help them deal with these threats. In this post, we’re going to focus on teeth, tusks, and camouflage.
Sharp teeth are mostly found in animals who eat meat. They are used for the tearing and chewing of prey, but pointed teeth can also come in handy if an animal needs to defend itself. Some animals flash their pearly whites to demonstrate fear, such as a grimace, used by several species of monkeys. In other instances, though, large teeth are a very clear demonstration of power, and the animal’s willingness to use it!
Lions aren't the only animals who use sharp teeth for defense. Sharks are famous for the use of their chompers! Make this adorable shark craft from Hello Wonderful with your kids.
Tusks are one of the most obvious defenses in the animal world. Elephants are a classic example of a tusked animal, although narwhals, the unicorns of the sea, are another species who sport tusks. While narwhal tusks are elongated canine teeth, those of elephants are actually elongated incisors that never stop growing!
Elephants use their tusks for daily tasks, such as digging, gathering food, and stripping bark from trees. Tusks are used in displays of social dominance, as they are here, and are also utilized in self defense against attackers.
Although it’s hard to imagine, sloths move SO slowly that algae has time to grow on their fur as they cling to the trees! This algae provides two benefits - it’s a food source for their young and it also provides camouflage, making the sloth more difficult to find (and eat!). Since sloths are incapable of escaping predators, they blend in with their environment instead.
After sharing this post with your kids, help them to leave a comment below with their favorite examples of animals with sharp teeth, tusks or camouflage. We can't wait to hear their ideas!