By Josie March 3rd, 2023
Growing up to 10 feet in length, they are one of the largest living members of the seal family and can weigh up to 1,200 pounds.
These incredible mammals mostly stay within the stretches of the Southern Oceans surrounding Antarctica.
They usually stay close to ice floes and frozen coastlines between feedings.
The species derives its name from the rosette patterning of its coat, mimicking the pattern of leopards.
They can turn their neck by up to 180 degrees – making them incredibly well-adapted hunters.
These fierce predators have large canines with interlocking cusps that act like a pair of scissors
All dult leopard seals have a total of 38 teeth to help them hunt; 18 teeth on the top and 20 on the bottom.
The largest of these is the front incisors, which can measure up to an impressive 2.75 inches.
Their fierce canines measure over an inch long.
The front incisors clamp onto their prey while the molars behind them crush anything they can sink their teeth into.
Their teeth structure also helps them feed on slippery prey, as it prevents the items from slipping away before they can swallow their meal.
While they can inflict a bite on a human, there have been no reports of serious harm caused by leopard seals in recent history.
Leopard seals primarily feed on fish and krill, but depending on availability, they will also feed on penguins, squid, and other seals.
Unlike other seals, which primarily forage for food near the shore, leopard seals hunt further afield, using their sharp eyesight and hearing to scan open waters for potential meals.
Due to the brittleness of its teeth structure, these features are prone to high wear rates.
But, it compensates for these high wear rates by having a continuous cycle of tooth replacement throughout its life span.