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Nutrition

Food Nutrition is just a complicated word for something we all like doing - eating!

All animals, including humans, eat to live.They take in food at their mouths, munch it with their teeth, and the teeth break it down so it can be taken into the stomach. All the nutritious bits of the food are absorbed into the body through the intestine, and the rest comes out the other end!

Chewing is very important - it starts the process that breaks down our food. Most mammals have teeth to chew their food. Their teeth are adapted to their diets, but they usually have some combination of the three types of teeth that are found in human mouths: incisors, canines and molars.

Look at the human teeth below. Can you identify the incisors, canines and molars?
Click on the picture to see if you are right!

Human teeth

One way you can tell what type of food an animal eats is by looking at its teeth.

Humans are omnivores. They eat a bit of everything, and have all three types of teeth to chew their food. But lots of animals are not omnivores.
Some animals eat meat and only meat - thay are called carnivores. Carnivores have well developed canine teeth - for tearing and slicing meat.
Other animals eat only plants - they are called herbivores. Herbivores often have well developed molars or incisors for grinding and cutting plant food.

Have a look at the teeth below. Can you guess the diets of these animals? Remember incisors are for cutting plant food, molars are for grinding grass and other plants, and canines are for slicing and tearing meat.
Click on the pictures to see if you are right!

Animal teeth Tiger Porcupine Tapir

Look at more animal skulls and different types of teeth

Koala Another way of finding out what an animal eats is by looking at its gut. The shape and size of an animal's intestines and stomach tell us a lot about its diet.

Did you know koalas have incredibly long guts? This is because they only eat eucalyptus leaves, which contain very few nutrients - they have to have a very long intestine so they can get as much goodness out of the leaves as they can.

Cows have a similar problem.
Grass isn't too good to eat - so they need a long time to process their food. How do they solve their problem? Simple - they just have four stomachs!

Move your mouse over the picture to see what's going on!

Cows have four stomachs

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