Do birds have teeth?

Do birds have teeth?

So you're finding yourself asking the question of if birds have teeth, and the short answer to that question is no. This hasn't always been the case though, as birds descended from Archosaurs (which were a group of reptiles) that date back to more than 100 million years ago - they did in fact have teeth back then.

Birds don't need teeth because of the fascinating way feeding takes place. Birds swallow their food whole and then it's up to their gizzards (a muscular organ in the stomach) to grind up the swallowed food to allow digestion - having teeth would actually make it less efficient for birds to eat.

Baby birds do have a small sharp point on the end of their beaks, which is often referred to as an 'egg tooth'. This is because this tooth-like object is useful for breaking through the shell of an egg when they are born. This 'egg tooth' will fall off a few days after hatching though.

But I've seen teeth on birds?

If you've seen either pictures or birds in the flesh up close, you may have seen tooth-like serrations inside their beaks. In fact, the goose pictured at the top of this article has these! These are called tomia and are actually used to assist grip food. The tomia aren't coated in enamel, so aren't technically classified as teeth.

Birds of prey, including members of the falcon family, may also have a 'tomial tooth' on the lower half of their bills. This is used to assist severing their preys vertebrae.

Recent studies have found that chickens still have traces of the gene responsible for the production of teeth, but this doesn't actually mean chickens have teeth.