|Home Page||Digestion||Stomach & Esophagus||Oral Cavity||Caecum||Intestines||Ruminant||Nonruminant||Elephants||Links & References|
Ruminants are also referred to as "foregut fermenters" because of their method of digestion (Campbell 1975). After initially swallowing
their food they regurgitate it into their mouth and let it ferment there as they grind it smaller and smaller with their molars (See Figure 3,
Oral Cavity Page) (Fritz 2009). The esophagus, oral cavity, and stomach are commonly referred to as the "foregut" and the fermentation
of cellulose based sustenance occurs in the rumen (part of the stomach) and the oral cavity, hence they are known as foregut fermenters
(Hume 1989). The advantage to being a ruminant is that it allows an organism much more time to ferment its food than it would otherwise
have (Clauss 2003). This additional fermentation time allows the organism to consume lower-grade (and therefore less competed-for) foliage
for its meals, and grow to a larger size because of this (Clauss 2003). An increase in size makes an animal less likely to fall prey to predators and
more desirable to be bred by humans for meat products. The ability of ruminants to consume cellulose-based food and turn it into what
humans consider to be delectable is an invaluable one (Baldwin 1984). Faced with our own inability to produce cellulase we must rely
on ruminants to turn our foliage into meat and dairy products.
This image used in compliance with the Wikimedia Commons free license.
Figure 5: This is a diagram of the stomach of a typical ruminant. It displays the esophagal entrance, the small intestine exit, and the four chambers of the stomach itself.
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.