Skulls and teeth. Two types of bones that are so crucial to life, but right now they are the bane of my existence. How many foramina can the skull hold? What is each one called? How many different structures can be put into one small and confined space? Who knew that teeth could be so complicated? These are just a few of the questions that come to mind while thinking about my upcoming exam.
While there is so much to learn, everything is truly fascinating. Differences between animal skulls reflect on function and many other behavioral traits of the animal. Carnivores need large and pointy canines for hunting and killing prey, whereas herbivorous species like cows have canines shaped more like incisors to help grind down plant material. Skull diversity is pretty much nonexistent in every species except the dog, and it’s really only there because of selective human breeding. As we learned in class, some dog skulls (like bull dogs) are very short and are referred to as brachycephalic, while dolichocephalic breeds have longer skulls and snouts.
Another major topic we need to know about is ageing horses via dentition, a vital art in the horse world. As the horse ages, its teeth get worn down in predictable patterns. Therefore, by looking at the teeth, noticing which teeth have grown in, and which are in wear, people can put an approximate age on the horse. In the horse world, where horses are sold for large sums and people aren’t always honest about the horse’s condition, horse buyers rely on these guesstimates to make an informed decision.
Like humans, animals also have deciduous teeth and permanent adult teeth that come in at a later date. Of the domestic species, pigs have the most teeth with 42, and cats have fewer than dogs. Trying to memorize all of this information, mixed in with other classes has made me realize that teeth and skulls are not my favorite thing to be learning about. But enough talking about them–I should probably stop writing and get into the lab!