The New York Times article In Mozambique, a Living Laboratory for Nature’s Renewal discusses reintroduction of what the article calls only "African wild dogs" into Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.

I was taken aback by the "smile" of one of the dogs shown below. Though I'm not particularly familiar with canine dental situations, this looks like an awfully large number of teeth. Is there a known limit to the number of teeth wild African dogs (or any canine) can have?

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above: "A wild dog in Gorongosa. One pack has been reintroduced, and a second will be brought in next year.CreditBrett Kuxhausen/Gorongosa Media, via Associated Press" Cropped, from NYTimes.

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above: "Wild dogs, apex predators missing from Gorongosa National Park for decades, have been reintroduced and are slowly making a comeback, part of an ongoing experiment in reviving the park ecosystem after years of devastating war.CreditBrett Kuxhausen/Gorongosa Media, via Associated Press" From NYTimes.


I found conflicting information on different websites with a humanima article stating that they have 4 toes and 40 teeth (reference). However, multiple sources state that they have 42 teeth (reference 1, reference 2 and reference 3) with the different teeth being (i= 3/3; c=1/1; p=4/4; m=2/3) x2. I did search for official journal publications but could not find any.

However, since more sources state that there are 42 teeth, I am led to believe that 42 is the right number rather than 40.

  • $\begingroup$ Wow, thank you for the thorough and well-supported answer! Viewed top-down, human molars are roughly squarish. I'm having difficulty understanding from the photo in the question how each half of each jaw could only have ten to twelve teeth, unless some of them are extremely elongated along the jaw (front-to-back). Is that what's going on here? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 28 '18 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh That seems to be the case. Here are some images of the skull. skullbase.info/skulls/mammals/african_wild_dog.php $\endgroup$ – The Last Word Jul 29 '18 at 1:20
  • $\begingroup$ Super, and yikes! Thank you for the additional info. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 29 '18 at 1:24

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