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Discuss the Teeth and Gut specialisation in a ruminant and a carnivore.

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Discuss the Teeth and Gut specialisation in a ruminant and a carnivore. A ruminant is an herbivore with a multichambered stomach. The example of a ruminant that will be used is cattle. The example of the carnivore that will be used is a dog. The carnivore is a meat eating organism. The dog is a carnivore, and wild members such as wolves are predators. Refer to fig. 2. This diagram shows the structure of a dog's skull. The long, pointed teeth near the front of the mouth, the canines, are particularly noticeable. The top and bottom canines thrust past each other as the jaw is closed, allowing the dog to pierce the body of its prey with considerable force, and kill it. Behind the canines, you can see that the premolars and molars have sharp edges, and are sometimes known as carnassial teeth. They slice past each other as the jaw is closed. The scissor-like action can crack and crush the bones, and cut meat into pieces which can then be swallowed. ...read more.


This gap enables the long, flexible tongue to move grass around in the mouth, bringing it into different positions on the teeth so that it can be thoroughly chewed from all angles. The chewing is done by premolars and molars. Instead of the sharp edges of a dog's molars, those of a cow have broad surfaces with ridges and cusps. The ridges of the teeth on the upper jaw fit into the cusps of those on the lower jaw, and vice versa. Grass lying between these teeth is ground thoroughly, as the cow's jaw moves from side to side while it chews. The bone structure and musculature of the cow's lower jaw allows this side to side movement, whereas that of a dog results in a crisp up and down chopping movement. The cow does have incisors on its lower jaw; they are shaped like chisels and point forward. There are no incisors on the upper jaw, only a horny pad. If you have a chance to watch a cow feeding, notice how it tears off mouthfuls of grass using its tongue, its incisors and the horny pad above that they can bite against. ...read more.


Two bi-products of this conversion are carbon dioxide and methane which is released via the buccal cavity (mouth), while the fatty acids are absorbed through the walls of the rumen. It is extremely important that the mechanical digestion that takes place in the buccal cavity is done thoroughly so that there is a large surface area for digestive juices to work on. Now, the contents of the rumen then pass back up the oesophagus and the cow will then be 'chewing the cud'. The cow will spend many hours 'chewing the cud'. This material is then sent back down the oesophagus and passed to the omasum and the abomasums (true stomach). Here the food is churned up and the proteins synthesised by the microorganisms are then hydrolysed by the proteases in the cow's stomach. Copious amounts of saliva are produced (100dm3 per day) and this saliva contains a high proportion of urea. This urea is made by the liver from the deamination of amino acids. The microorganisms reconvert the urea to amino acids and then protein. This in effect creates an internal nitrogen cycle as the bacterial proteins are broken up by the hydrolases and absorbed. Some of which are then used to make more urea in the liver. ...read more.

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