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CANINE GENETICS

 

The internet's first information on canine phenotype, genotype, DNA, and the importance of dietary and environmental influences when performing health tests and genetic screenings.

 

 

 

WHY YOU HAVE FANGS AND CLAWS

by Barbara Andrews, TheDogPlace.org Publisher and SAAB member

 

Have you ever thought about why some species have different shaped teeth and feet or what the size and shape of your own hands indicates about you?

 

Only meat eaters have fangs and claws with which they grasp, hold and kill their prey. The carnivore’s claws then manipulate the carcass as the predator uses those long “canine” teeth to rip flesh into swallowable chunks.

 

 

Carnivores come in all sizes. This tiny weasel depends on meat scraps from a larger predator’s kills in order to survive. The world’s smallest carnivore, it is appropriately named the Least Weasel (mustela nivalis). So, when it comes to carnivores, size doesn’t matter but TEETH do!

 

From the biggest Bengal tiger to that tiny Least Weasel, carnivores not only have fangs but are one of only two species that have claws with which to grasp prey. Are you thinking ‘huh?’ What other species has claws?

 

While you are pondering that, you might note that only feline claws are retractable. Lion, tiger, or house kitty, cats are quiet stalkers. Retracted claws don’t rustle leaves and grass. Canines (dogs, coyotes, dingoes, foxes, jackals, wolves) are chasers and need permanently extended claws to give extra traction and stability when running down prey, whether it is a mouse or a moose!

 

 

Have you remembered which other species have claws with which to strike and hold prey? They are not classified as carnivores, but they do eat meat…And what does the human stomach tell us?

 

Meat eaters, dogs, wolves, coyotes, felines big and small, have only one stomach and it is acidic, so it quickly digests flesh. Herbivores (plant eaters) have several stomach chambers and a much longer, slower digestive tract so they eat most of their waking hours.

 

Think about how Nature has it all worked out. Meat-eaters take wounded, lame or elderly animals that compromise the herd’s mobility. That matters because grass-eaters are designed to move in order to preserve grazing land. Old, infirm or crippled animals can’t travel well thus they are easy prey for predators. Survival of the fittest actually serves an important purpose. Culling the herd and preserving grass lands.

 

We all know the wolf eats meat, mostly large animals like elk and moose. A wolf needs huge fangs with which to grab, hold and take down such large prey. It then uses those long fangs to rip apart the tough hide. Then there’s the job of separating flesh in order to get to the choice morsels such as the nutrient-rich liver.

 

The fat stored under the prey’s flesh is also consumed and is important, not only for essential fatty acids but fat helps the predator absorb vitamins A, D, and E. Think Polar bear. Then note that their primary diet is fatty seals and fish.

 

 

Herbivores, such as rabbits, horses and sheep, chew from side-to-side and have longer intestines to process and absorb nutrients. Their saliva (and ours) contains amylase, an enzyme that helps digest starchy carbohydrates found in whole grains like oats, corn, wheat and barley. Amylase is also abundant in human saliva. Some would argue that means humans were meant to be grain-eaters but we are omnivores, designed to eat both meat and vegetables.

 

Only a few other species are true omnivores, think bears, pigs and rodents. Carnivores don’t spend much time chewing nor do they consume many carbohydrates, so there is no need for amylase in their saliva. But notably, the carnivore’s jaws are incapable of moving from side to side as ours do.

 

We humans have short, soft fingernails, not claws and our canine teeth (fangs) are small and blunt and have no chance of penetrating a hide. Vegetarians point out what Dr William C. Roberts, Editor-in-Chief, of The American Journal of Cardiology said: “Although most of us conduct our lives as omnivores in that we eat flesh as well as vegetables and fruits, human beings have characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores.

 

He is the expert but apparently he dismissed those fangs or as we politely call them, eye-teeth.

 

Anthropologists Eaton and Melvin got it right. Human feet were made for stalking not running. Human hands took the place of fangs with which to grasp and hold prey. They said humans do well on mostly lean meat and fish with some fresh fruit and vegetables but no dairy or grain products.

 

Paleo promoters reckon the mismatch between the natural meat, fish, fruit and vegetable diet and our high-fat, high sugar, fake flavoring diet of today is responsible for the current high levels of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

 

So… that’s why your fangs have gotten smaller and your molars more powerful. Your claws have changed into finger-nails which are used to scratch an itch or grasp-pick up some inanimate object.

TheDogPlace.org EST 1998 © Jul. 2022 https://www.thedogplace.org/Genetics/why-you-have-fangs-and-claws-bj22A072.asp

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