If you look in your mouth, you should find 3 different kinds of teeth - incisors for biting and cutting, canines for tearing and piercing, and molars for chewing and grinding.
Like you, some animals have several different kinds of teeth. Others have only one kind. Others don't have any teeth at all. Different types of food require different teeth because food must be broken down into smaller pieces so it can be digested. Animals' teeth give you clues about what they eat.
These animals eat a variety of food, including meat and plants. In some animals the canine teeth are not so prominent and the back molars are more flat than jagged.
The most noticeable feature that characterizes the teeth of insect eating animals is the structure of the molars. They are squarish, with sharp points that are excellent for tearing up the bodies of insects.
Flesh eating animals have three kinds of teeth. The incisors, located in the front of the mouth, are used for biting and holding. Next to the incisors come the long, sharp canines, used for fighting their enemy or killing prey. Behind the canines are jagged molard, used for cutting up food.
Some plant eaters have no incisor teeth in the upper jaw. The incisors are replaced by a horny pad. When feeding, the animal grinds the plants between the lower theeth and the upper teeth by moving its jaw in a circular motion. Most rodents are herbivores. Their molars are broad and flat with ridges for grinding. They also have long chisel-like incisors for gnawing grass and twigs.
On these two pages there are some skulls of animals at the Brandywine Zoo. See if you can identify what kind of animal it is and what it eats. page1 and page 2.
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