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Difference Between Herbivores and Carnivores

carnivores_bookHerbivores vs Carnivores

Just like plants, animals need a constant supply of energy in order for their bodily functions to work properly, and to survive. However, because animals cannot create their own food like plants, they need to get this constant supply by eating certain types of food to provide for their needs. In the animal kingdom, there are two major kinds of animals: Herbivores and carnivores. We all learned that one of the differences between herbivores and carnivores is the type of food that they eat. Herbivores refer to those animals that consume only plants. This includes leaves, grains and seeds. On the other hand, carnivores are those animals that eat meat in order to survive.

Determining whether a particular animal is an herbivore or a carnivore is not just limited to merely observing what particular type of food that they eat. In fact, paleontologists are able to determine whether a particular fossilized animal was a herbivore or a carnivore by simply looking at the fossilized skeletal remains. The most obvious indication is the teeth. Herbivores are animals that have broad, flat canines, that are shaped in the form of spades, and short, dull incisors. This allows them to properly grind the fibers found in plants, and crush seeds and grains, consumed during their lifetime. On the other hand, carnivores have short, pointed canines, and long, sharp, curved incisors. This allows them to tear through skin, muscle and ligaments, and help them chew the meat from their prey.

Another difference is the nails found in these skeletons. Herbivores have flattened nails, or blunt hooves. Carnivores have razor sharp claws. The difference between the nails is, again, to do with the type of food that they eat. Carnivores need to stalk and kill their prey in order for them to consume their flesh, and these claws help them to inflict as much damage as possible, to render their prey helpless.

In line with this, there is also a huge difference in the size of the mouth opening in ratio to the size of the skull, between herbivores and carnivores. Due to the fact that herbivores merely eat plants, seeds and grains, their mouth opening is relatively small in ratio to their head size. On the other hand, carnivores have larger mouth openings in ratio to their head size. This is because carnivores do not just use their mouths to eat. In fact, most carnivores utilize their razor sharp teeth when they attack their prey, to bring them down.


1. Herbivores refer to animals that consume only plant products. Carnivores are animals that consume the flesh and meat of other animals, for food.

2. Carnivores have sharp incisors and canines, for their teeth help them to tear their prey’s flesh. Herbivores have flat, spade-shaped canines, and dull, short incisors, to help them grind plant leaves, seeds and grains.

3. Herbivores merely utilize their mouths for consuming food, which is why they only have small mouth openings. Carnivores use their teeth as a weapon, making it necessary for their mouth openings to be relatively larger in ratio to their head size.

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