What Are The Fangs Actually FOR?
Turns out, no one actually shows exactly what the fangs are for, except to mark vampires indelibly as not-human and scary as shit. Those fangs work really well for that, but what do they really do?
Before I started writing vampire fiction for a living, I had supposed in some vague way that those shapely, elongated fangs worked like syphons. When they pierced human flesh, they would draw the blood out through the fangs themselves. Afterall, most of the TV shows and movies I ever saw featuring vampires biting only ever showed two little pin prick marks on the beautiful victim’s neck. It made sense that was how it worked, given the minimal damage the teeth left.
But once I settled into actually writing a vampire story and had to really think about vampire physiology and how it all worked, I bumped up against this question and had to settled it in my own mind…at least for my own vampire universes.
The fangs are clearly required for some use apart from decoration. Most predators in the animal world use fangs for tearing into meat, and vampires are predators.
The other fanged creatures in the animal world are snakes, and they use their fangs to inject their victims with a toxin that eventually immobilizes them, so they can ingest their meal at their leisure. Vampires, even in their earliest fictional incarnation, did not draw inspiration from snakes. However, most of the fangs that the TV and movie vampires display are long, slender teeth like snakes would have, more suitable for puncturing than tearing.
A fang capable of syphoning off blood would require a completely new additional physical system to deal with the blood flow that is drawn through the root of the tooth. The blood has to go somewhere once it passes through the tooth…and what happens to it once it has passed through? How does it get processed? What new organ deals with it in order for the vampire to use the blood for sustenance?
It seemed a lot easier to me for the vampire to draw the blood down into the system he already had available for processing nourishment: his stomach.
That just leaves the precise function of the fang left to be decided.
If the blood needs to reach the stomach, then the fangs merely need to ensure the blood is available in the first place. They can become primary predator tools: tearers of meat.
But they can have secondary functions, as well. Vampires are paranormal creatures, too. They use seduction and their prey is humans, so their hunting tools are complex and multi-faceted. Their fangs can be shortened, widened and made much, much stronger in order to be able to tear quickly and deeply to reach the main arteries of their victim. But a deep cut is incredibly painful. Even if you’ve been lulled by a masterful seduction into standing still for the first bite, as soon as the teeth break your flesh, you’ll struggle, which will upset his meal.
Bring on the secondary tools. An anesthetic injected via the fangs to soothe the victim, delivered exactly the way a snake injects venom. In my stories, which are erotic vampire romances, I step up the stakes a notch further — it’s not just anesthetic, it’s an aphrodisiac.
A further refinement includes memory wiping so the victim doesn’t recall the attack, but that trick doesn’t depend upon the fangs for delivery.
And the final grace note: Instant healing of the bite mark, using a special saliva excreted from the fangs.
For vampire romances there is one additional, very special purpose the fangs can be used for — although this is not confined exclusively to romances: binding or bonding in an unbreakable love match, delivered by a vampire bite.
There are probably a dozen different uses for a vampire’s fangs authors have invented over the years. What unique use have you come across?