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The oral cavity of an organism is the first point of contact between the digestive system and the food. The oral cavity is another piece
of the digestive system that is highly specialized depending on the organism and its preferred diet (Fritz 2009). A ruminant will have
a mouth especially designed to allow fermentation to occur within it (Fritz 2009). The chewing technique and anatomy of ruminants
allows them grind their food (mostly made of grains and grasses) into smaller and finer particles than their nonruminant counterparts, even
while adjusted for size of the organisms involved (Fritz 2009). As shown in Figure 3, the jaw of a ruminant (in this case a sheep) is optimized
for chewing its cud and picking grains and grasses from the ground. The fore teeth will allow the sheep to grab its food and the rear
molars will grind the food finely and then form a pocket in which it can be further fermented, or "ruminated" (Baldwin 1984, Fritz 2009).
This image used in compliance with the Wikimedia Commons free license.
Figure 3: This is a photograph of a sheep's skull that prominently displays its fore incisors and hind molars.
Please email Brian McRae at Davidson College with any questions.
This website was created as a part of a class project in the Animal Physiology Class at Davidson College.