One look at a sheepshead fish and you might think he’s just picked up a sailor’s lost pair of dentures from the ocean’s floor.
But don’t be fooled: Those pearly whites are all natural.
Native to the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States, the sheepshead is a special fish who’s taken the internet by storm after the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources recently posted a photo of one individual’s toothy grin.
Some people instantly thought he was creepy, while other commenters were amazed at how bright and humanlike the fish’s teeth were.
All internet commentary aside, one thing’s for certain: These guys have some pretty impressive chompers.
Equipped with super strong jaws, sheepsheads are able to easily crush through hard-shelled sea life like oysters, crabs and barnacles, which make up much of their adult diet. Multiple rows of molars behind their front teeth grind up the food into tiny particles as they chew.
Their jaws are so powerful, in fact, that they have even been known to snap metal fishhooks in half.
Weighing in at around 20 pounds as adults, they’re a common target among fishermen due to their size, and have even been at risk in the past due to overfishing. Luckily, the sheepshead fish population as a whole is doing much better now, and they’re often spotted by divers hanging around mangrove roots, piers and jetties.
And if their picture-perfect smiles are any indicator, these fish are more like us than we know — and that’s all the better reason to keep them safe.