The features of different animal teeth-set is their distinction: Animal traits are identified through them such that they are used by scientists in experimentation and fossilization. Animal teeth come in different sizes and shapes, very unlike human teeth.
The shape of the teeth is dependent on the kinds of food being eaten by the animal. The kind of foods consumed by animals is dependent on their biological need. Do they eat plants or meat or both? Animal teeth are classified into two – heterodont and homodont.
Heterodont animal teeth
The heterodont animal teeth are the kinds that all mammals have: There are three types of teeth and a mammal may have two or more of these types.
The types of heterodont animal teeth are incisors, canines and molars.
- The incisors and the canines are used for biting on foods as well as for tearing the food into pieces.
- The incisors are flat while the canines are pointed and sharp.
- The molars are used for crushing food. These teeth are found at the back of the mouth.
Usually a tooth has two parts – what is exposed and visible is the crown then you have the root which is implanted in the jaws. The white part which is the outer section of a tooth is called enamel and under it is the dentine which is the major part of the root. The root has projections, two or three, and is made of dentine.
At the center of the animal teeth is the pulp cavity which is connected to the blood vessels and the nerves.
Homodont animal teeth
The other type of animal teeth is the homodont. Some species of animals have teeth that are all the same in shape. The set of teeth is called homodont. Examples of such animals are crocodiles, whales, sharks and fish. The single type of teeth is used for catching of prey.
Animal teeth and the 3 types of foods
Animals eat different kinds of foods and as such, they require different animal teeth for cutting and breaking them into small pieces. Taking a look at the animal teeth, you will be given a hint as to the kind of food that they eat. The foods are classified as carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.
Animals that are carnivores or flesh eating have three kinds of animal teeth. They need the incisors in front to bite and hold the food. They have the canines that are used when they fight and kill their prey. Then situated behind the canines are the molars that are used for cutting food. Animals that are plant eaters or herbivores do not have the upper incisors. Instead of animal teeth, they have horny pad used for grinding the food. They have the chisel-shaped lower incisors for biting and chewing grasses.
Herbivores animals have flat and broad molars which feature ridges for food grinding. Omnivore animals are eating a combination of plants and meat. The animal teeth comprise of prominent canine teeth and not so prominent back molars which are jagged but flat.
There is an additional classification of foods for animals and this is the insectivores. The distinguishing feature of the insect eating animals is their molars, square-shaped with sharp parts used to tear the bodies of insects. Animal teeth are classified as homodont and heterodont, the homodont having a set that is of the same shape. The kinds of animal teeth will give you a clue as to the kind of food that they normally eat – plants, meat or a combination of plant and animal.