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Tiziana Vella

Dentition in Herbivores and


o Instead of incisors and canines in the upper jaw, there is a pad of

tough horny material for chopping against.

o A gap between front and back teeth is present: called the diastema. It
lets the tongue to keep newly cut grass away from the cheek teeth until
they are ready to deal with it, and then gives it room to sweep it to
o The incisor found at the front form a blade so as the herbivore can
chop off the grass against the hard, horny pad above.
o The canines of the herbivore are more like the incisors and therefore
they form part of the blade.
o The premolars and molars are more like a board and are rough and the

upper and lower sets are fitting closely together. The grass passes
between these and with a side-to-side action, the lower teeth are
scarped across the upper so tearing and grinding the food to a mushy
pulp before swallowing. The enamel of the teeth is wear away as they
are chewing. The root canal stays wide to let good blood supply and
keeps the tooth growing.
o The jaw joint is loose fitting to allow both up, down and side-to-side
movements of the jaw.
o The masseter jaw muscles are large and fixed at a point distant from
the jaw joint. This gives them leverage to work the grinding teeth
without getting tired. The temporalis muscles are much smaller.
Tiziana Vella

• Its jaws are short and its muscles powerful.
• The massive temporalis muscle enables the large pointed canine teeth
to deliver sufficient pressure to suffocate its prey.
• The masseter muscle provides the force needed to cut flesh, grind, and
cut meat when the jaws are almost shut.
• Backward-curved horny papillae cover the upper surface of the tongue
in lions. These help to hold on to the meat as it is being cut by the
teeth and make it easier to manipulate and swallow the meat.
• The close fitting incisors are chisel-shaped and used to tear away flesh
near the bone surface.
• The enlarged canines are curved and fang-like and used to seize and
kill prey and tear off flesh.
• Two carnassial teeth are present on each side.
• Other cheek teeth are flattened and possess sharp edges used for
cutting flesh and cracking bones.