Insects and mammals cut their food up into small pieces to facilitate ingestion and chemical digestion. Teeth and jaws act as cutting tools, but, unlike engineering tools designed for a specific purpose, must generally cope with substantial variation in food properties and work at many scales. Knowing how teeth and jaws work effectively requires an understanding of the cutting on the edges and the mechanisms that remove cut material. Variability and heterogeneity of diet properties are not well known, and, for example, maybe higher and overlap more in the browsing and grazing categories of plant diets. A reinterpretation of tooth function in large mammal browsers and grazers is proposed.
- Dietary heterogeneity
- Fracture mechanics