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Describe and compare the digestion and alimentary canal of carnivores, ruminants and hindgut fermenters.

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Introduction

Describe and compare the digestion and alimentary canal of carnivores, ruminants and hindgut fermenters. Carnivores have a dentition similar to humans. However, the third upper premolar and first lower molar is enlarged and pointed. These are known as the carnassials. These teeth allow the shearing of food. Canines are also more prominent. A great pressure can be exerted by the canines since they are pointed and thus can pierce flesh. Molars are flattened, and aligned with the powerful jaw muscles. This structure is ideal for crushing bone. Upper and lower jaw fit together so closely that they cannot be dislocated thus making ideal for holding on struggling prey. The temporal muscle is well developed unlike the masseter muscle which is relatively smaller. Adaptations of the alimentary canal to high protein diet include three main characteristics. ...read more.

Middle

In the large intestine the final processes takes place. In all animals water is absorbed, bacterial fermentation takes place and faeces are formed. In carnivores, that's about the extent of it, but in ruminants and hindgut fermenters, the large intestine is huge and of critical importance for utilisation of cellulose. Ruminants are herbivores. These herbivores have several modifications in their alimentary canal. They have a horny pad instead of the upper incisors. Canines are absent. They also have a toothless gap between the incisors and the premolars. This is known as the diastema. It allows the manipulation of food by the tongue. The molars and premolars of these animals grow indefinitely to replace layers that are worn away by frictional forces produced during the chewing of food. The upper molars are W-shaped while the lower molars are M-shaped. ...read more.

Conclusion

Incisors are adapted of growing and scraping (shaped like chisels). Molars and premolars have flat grinding surfaces and continue to grow throughout life (as they are worn away by grinding). Upper and lower jaw fit together very loosely to allow side to side movement during chewing. The fermentation of cellulose occurs in the large intestine unlike that of ruminants which occurs in the stomach. The caecum and appendix are large since fermentation occurs here. The large intestine is relatively longer so that food spends enough time in it to enable the absorption of nutrients. Even with the aid of cellulose-digesting bacteria, vegetation provides a poor diet for hindgut fermenters such as the rabbit, and thus they have to digest the food twice. During the night the rabbit produces pellets of faeces, which contain some undigested food. It eats these night pellets whilst it is asleep and they pass through the digestive system for a second time. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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