My father-in-law is a dentist, and my younger sister-in-law has assisted him and considered a dental career for herself. She’s also an avid SF reader and watcher. A big Buffy fan, she pays close attention to vampires.
“You know what I don’t like about the vampires on True Blood? Their fangs are in the wrong place. They should be canines, not incisors,” she told me.
By definition, fangs in mammals are canine teeth. You’ve seen ‘em. Especially in canines.
They’re only slightly pointy in humans…
…unless you’re a vampire. If you doubt it, just browse these realistic vampire fangs. Go on. They’re not fooling. Those are some sharp canines. (And the little animated goth store assistant is worth clicking over for.)
But the True Blood vampires have something else going on. Something different. Something never before seen:
But wait, you say: those look like kitty fangs!
Indeed, they do. And maybe that’s what inspired Alan Ball to move his vamps’ pointies one maxillary location inward. However:
It’s very common for a cat’s eight tiny incisors to fall out. Frequently, they do this on their own over time without much of a problem, and many cats are missing most of their incisors by the time they are just 5 years old.
The cat excuse won’t fly. Look at the vamp from the True Blood pilot teaser: he’s clearly not missing his incisors. They’re his fangs.
And thus we strike a blow in favor of grounding SF in accurate dental anatomy.
(Looks like s-i-l and I are not the first to gripe.)
UPDATE: We needed to do more research. Yes, fangs in mammals are typically canine teeth, with the notable exception of the vampire bat:
Needless to say, vampires are anatomically specialized. [...] Their upper incisors and canines are large and projecting, and both Common and White-winged vampires only have one pair of upper incisors (the Hairy-legged vampire has two pairs) [pic of teeth from here]. These teeth lack enamel and are shear-like with sharp cutting edges; they appear to be kept sharp by constant contact with the smaller lower incisors and canines.
All hail the Desmodontines! Since Kaitlyn was making an evolutionary argument, it’s a point in her favor that canine-fanged apes are our closer cousins that incisor-fanged bats. But given that existing vampire mammals use their incisors, I have to withdraw my complaint. You win this round, Alan Ball.
Also, in comments, Jake D makes a good point about the stage value of incisor fangs.
LATE UPDATE: If you found your way here via search, please check out some related fanged delights.