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Teeth crush shells: walrus


Walrus / Pfinge / LicensePD - Public Domain

The cheek teeth of walruses are capable of crushing tough shells because they are strong and flat.

"The walrus has only 18 teeth in its mouth, but the upper canines form great ivory tusks up to a metre long. It uses them for levering itself on to ice floes, as weapons in battles with other males over females, and as digging tools to extract clams and other invertebrates from the sea bed. A walrus may dive to depths of 200 metres and more in search of food, and is thought to use its tusks to plough up the sediments on the sea bottom to expose shells, which are recognized in these murky depths by the stiff sensory bristles on its snout. Behind the tusks are strong flat teeth capable of crushing the hardest shells." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:147)
About the inspiring organism
Med_800pxwalrus2 Walrus
Odobenus rosmarus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common name: Walrus

Habitat(s): Marine Intertidal, Marine Neritic, Marine Oceanic
Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

IUCN Red List Status: Unknown

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Small-scale processing equipment for rock or gravel, demolition techniques that do not require explosives, techniques for crushing waste to speed up decomposition.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Construction, processing rock, demolition, waste management

Foy S; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.
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over 6 years ago
Thanks to Duarte Miguel Prazeres for finding and uploading this photo.
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