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Omnivory

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Definition

noun

The consumption of materials from multiple trophic levels, primarily involving both plant and animal materials in the animal diet


Supplement

Omnivory is the act or condition of feeding on materials from multiple trophic levels as the primary sources of nutrition and energy. It typically includes both plant and animal materials in the diet. The animals that are capable of omnivory are called omnivorous animals (omnivores). Omnivorous animals have no exclusive specializations in contrast to carnivorous animals and herbivorous animals. Carnivorous animals have sharp teeth to tear the meat of their prey. Herbivorous animals have flatter teeth to aid them in chewing plant materials. The teeth of omnivores are more closely related to those of herbivores. Unlike herbivory and carnivory, omnivory involves the consumption of a much wider selection of food. An omnivorous animal may feed on plants, animals, as well as fungal, algal and bacterial food materials. Some of the animals that favor an omnivorous diet include chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, pigs, most bears, hedgehogs, opossums, skunks, sloths, squirrels, mice, rats, rodents, raccoon, and so on. Most humans are omnivorous. There are people, however, who chose to restrict their diet. Vegans, for instance, feed solely on plant materials. And there are a stricter group feeding only on specific plant parts, such as fruitarians whose diet is comprised of fresh fruits and fruit-derived products.


Word origin: Latin omnis (all) + Latin vorare (to devour)

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