Carnassial


Carnassial

Carnassials are large teeth found in many carnivorous mammals, used for shearing flesh and bone in a scissor or shear-like way. In the Carnivora, the carnassials are the modified last upper premolar and the first lower molar, but in the prehistoric creodonts, the carnassials were further back in the jaw — first upper and second lower or second upper and third lower molars.

Carnassials are the defining characteristic of the Carnivora order; that is, they are the one thing that all of the animals within the order have in common. Large and pointy, the carnassial teeth are used to shear tough meats and crush bones. Devastation of the carnassial teeth in a wild carnivore (e.g. wolves, lions) may result in the death of the individual due to starvation.

* [http://wtfaculty.wtamu.edu/~rmatlack/Mammalogy/puma_concolor_skull.htm Carnassial teeth in a Puma]


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  • Carnassial — Car*nas si*al, a. [Cf. F. carnassier carnivorous, and L. caro, carnis, flesh.] (Anat.) Adapted to eating flesh. n. A carnassial tooth; especially, the last premolar in many carnivores. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • carnassial — [kär nas′ē əl] adj. [< Fr carnassier, carnivorous < Prov carnasa, bad flesh (+ pejorative acea) < carn, flesh < L caro: see CARNAGE] designating or of teeth of a flesh eating animal specialized for slicing or shearing rather than… …   English World dictionary

  • carnassial — adjective Etymology: French carnassier carnivorous, ultimately from Latin carn , caro Date: circa 1852 of, relating to, or being a tooth of a carnivore often larger and longer than adjacent teeth and adapted for cutting rather than tearing •… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • carnassial — /kahr nas ee euhl/, Zool. adj. 1. (of teeth) adapted for shearing flesh. n. 2. a carnassial tooth, esp. the last upper premolar or the first lower molar tooth of certain carnivores. [1840 50; < F carnassi(er) flesh eating ( < Pr, equiv. to… …   Universalium

  • carnassial — Adapted for shearing flesh; denoting those teeth designed to cut flesh. [Fr. carnassier, carnivorous, fr. L. caro, flesh] * * * car·nas·si·al (kahr nasґe əl) 1. adapted for shearing and tearing. 2. carnassial tooth …   Medical dictionary

  • carnassial — car•nas•si•al [[t]kɑrˈnæs i əl[/t]] adj. 1) zool. (of teeth) adapted for shearing flesh 2) zool. a carnassial tooth, esp. the last upper premolar or the first lower molar tooth of carnivores • Etymology: 1840–50; < F carnassi(er) flesh eating… …   From formal English to slang

  • carnassial — /kaˈnæsiəl/ (say kah naseeuhl) adjective 1. (of teeth) adapted for shearing flesh, as certain of the upper and lower cheek teeth of cats, dogs, etc. –noun 2. a carnassial tooth, especially the last upper premolar or the first lower molar tooth of …   Australian English dictionary

  • carnassial — noun One of the teeth used by a carnivore for shearing flesh, being the last upper premolar and the first lower molar …   Wiktionary

  • carnassial — adj. (Zoology) suitable for tearing meat (of teeth) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • carnassial — [kα: nasɪəl] adjective Zoology denoting the large upper premolar and lower molar teeth of a carnivore, adapted for shearing flesh. Origin C19: from Fr. carnassier carnivorous , based on L. caro, carn flesh …   English new terms dictionary


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