Pencil sea urchins at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island were recently visited by the Aquarium’s veterinary team for a very important reason: dental checkups. Sea urchins have a unique jaw apparatus called Aristotle’s lantern, which includes five teeth that continually grow throughout the animal’s life. In the wild, one way urchins trim these teeth is by scraping food from rocks and reefs. In the Aquarium environment, there are fewer opportunities for sea urchins to dull their teeth this way. With the help of a dremel, veterinarian Dr. Emily Christiansen was able to trim and reshape the teeth of these invertebrates. This process is important to the continued health and welfare of the urchins, ensuring they are able to eat properly. Radiographs of the urchins were taken before and after the procedure to document the dental work.
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