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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tusks are unusually long teeth, usually but not always in pairs, that protrude well beyond the mouth of certain mammal species.[1] They are most commonly canines, as with warthogs, wild boar, and walruses, or, in the case of elephants and narwhals, elongated incisors.[2] Tusks are generally curved and pointed, though the narwhal's sole tusk is straight and has a helical structure. In the elephant, the tusks were originally second incisors.



Tusks have a variety of uses depending on the animal. Social dispays of dominances, particularly among males, is common, as is their use in defense against predators. Elephants use them as digging and boring tools. Walruses use them to grip on ice and to haul out on ice.[3] The presence of tusks in only the male narwhals suggests that for these whales it is a secondary sexual characteristic.[4]

Tusks are used by humans to produce ivory, which is used in artifacts and jewelry, and formerly in other items such as piano keys. Consequently, many tusk bearing species have been hunted commercially and several are endangered. The ivory trade has been severely restricted by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

See also

  • Fang, a long canine tooth (in mammals)


  1. ^ "Tusk" in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000.
  2. ^ "Tusk" in The Oxford English Dictionary
  3. ^ Fay, F.H. (1985). "Odobenus rosmarus". Mammalian Species 238: 1–7. 
  4. ^ "Monodon monoceros". Fisheries and Aquaculture Department: Species Fact Sheets. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved 2007-11-20. 

External links


Simple English

Tusks is a very long tooth that some animals have. Tusks are made of ivory. Ivory is very rare and expensive. Many elephants are killed for their tusks.

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