Thursday, May 11, 2006


Plants form the diet of herbivores and and therefore their digestion holds up the key for the availability of nutrients for these animals1. Plants cells have cellulose which is the primary structural component plant cells is a stable organic compound that is not easily digested. Digestive enzymes which the mammals produce cannot be able to breakdown cellulose to obtain glucose. As herbivores had to feed on the plants they had to overcome the problem of cellulose digestion. Cellulose can be broken down mechanically by chewing for a long time or fermentation by bacteria which dissolves cellulose. All herbivores stomachs have bacteria which dissolve cellulose but the process takes time. Various mechanical methods are employed by different herbivores to breakdown cellulose2.

Among the adaptations for digestion to evolve are exhibited by rabbits and rodents who re-eat their faeces which is soft, and normally deposited in the burrow2. This process is called coprophagy and ensures that the plant material consumed is processed twice and nutrients are extracted. After this second eating process is the faeces discarded outside the burrow as dry pellets2.

Elephants eat leaves, fibrous and woody material which poses a problem in their digestion, first to make it small and secondly to breakdown cellulose2. To handle this problem elephants have molars as their only teeth in their mouths. These molars are massive grinders which pound and crush the food with much power. The molars are continuously replaced as they wear out, by new ones growing on rear of the jaw and moving to replace those that are worn out2. Elephants feed on a lot of food and it takes along time before it is fully digested (up to two and a half weeks). To be able to store this food for those two weeks the elephants have to have big stomachs which also aid in the breakdown of the mostly woody material in the process of fermentation by bacteria in the elephants stomach. The big stomach serves as holders for the bacteria broth there for digestion. 2

Ruminants also evolved a different way to overcome this problem. Ruminants are animals that digest their food in two steps; first they chew the food for the first time roughly to break it to make them easy to swallow and then regurgitate and chew it a second time2, 3. The second chewing is called chewing the cud and animals practising ruminacy include cattle, deer, goats, sheep, camels, giraffes, buffalo, wildebeest, and antelope3. A ruminants stomach is divided in to four compartments namely; rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasums2. Grass and other foliage are clipped by use of lower incisors and pressing it against the tongue or gums of upper jaw with no front teeth. It’s briefly chewed by the molars before being swallowed the food into the rumen where there’s a broth of bacteria and is churned by this muscular stomach while bacteria break the cellulose3. The food moves to the reticulum where it is divided into solid and liquid before being brought back in to the mouth2. The food is then brought to the mouth in balls (bolus) and is chewed again and ground by the molars by forward, backwards and sideways movements combined with up and down movements3. The now well ground food and in semi liquid form goes to the omasum through the rumen where water is removed before going to the omasum3. All the final digestion and absorption takes place in this stomach2.

Chewing the cud normally takes place in safety and in a relaxed form thought to be a form of adaptation to escape predators and so the animal have to eat in a hurry. Also due to limited food and there’s competition makes the animals adopt this method first to fill their stomachs and then digest it later. Due to the many number of stomachs has made the animals grow bigger in size. They also take big amounts of food like the cows, wildebeests buffalos and the giraffe. This form of breaking down of cellulose is more advanced than that of the elephants2.

By being able to digest cellulose the animals are assured that their glucose requirements are provided for in their meals. This has come with various modifications to the body structure like teeth, stomach and an increase in their sizes2.


1. Wikipedia contributors. Herbivore [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 Apr 30, 00:26 UTC [cited 2006 May 11]. Available from:

2. Knight, R. BCB Biodiversity chapter 2 The Invasion of the Land (Cited 2006 May 11)

3. Wikipedia contributors. Ruminant [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 Apr 22, 23:58 UTC [cited 2006 May 11]. Available from:


Biodiversity and Conservation Biology

University of the Western Cape

Private Bag X17 Bellville

TEL: +27825103190




  • hi Vincent
    i was just wondering about people who are vegetarian do they have the same problems as the herbivores animals. if so are those people healthy because they dont get full diet- from vegetables you get a certain diet and from meat you get certain nutrient.

    By Blogger lethabo, at May 16, 2006 10:36 AM  

  • There are different nutrients that you can get from various foods. You can get proteins from Soya and Beans, VItamins from fruits, carbohydrates from starch. So even if you are a vageterian you still can be healthy.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 23, 2006 9:46 PM  

  • You had some errors in your facts. The herbivore digestive tract contains bacteria but not always in the stomach. According to the notes, the elephant's digestion takes two and a half days.

    You still need to watch your use of quotes but otherwise your referencing seems good.

    By Blogger Gwen, at May 29, 2006 11:43 AM  

  • Hii Vincent, you are almost getting there

    By Blogger linette, at June 01, 2006 4:30 PM  

  • Excellent items from you, man. I have consider your stuff prior to and
    you are just too fantastic. I actually like what you've received here, really like what you're stating and the way in which by which you are saying it.
    You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it
    wise. I cant wait to learn far more from you.
    That is actually a wonderful web site.
    My blog free teen porn

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 19, 2012 2:24 PM  

  • I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This post posted
    at this web site is actually fastidious.
    Also visit my homepage ... hardcore sex

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 20, 2012 8:19 AM  

  • Hi, I would like to subscribe for this website to obtain hottest updates, so where can i do it please help out.
    Check out my website - drunk teens

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 20, 2012 1:46 PM  

  • Hi, I would like to subscribe for this website to obtain hottest updates, so where can i
    do it please help out.
    my web page: drunk teens

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 20, 2012 1:46 PM  

  • Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a
    sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She placed the shell
    to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!
    Also visit my weblog : Free Tube Porn

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 20, 2012 5:30 PM  

  • It's remarkable to go to see this site and reading the views of all friends regarding this article, while I am also eager of getting knowledge.
    Feel free to visit my web page contractor in Orlando fl

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 24, 2012 2:37 PM  

  • Good day! I know this is kinda off topic however ,
    I'd figured I'd ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or
    maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa?
    My site discusses a lot of the same topics as yours and I think we could greatly benefit
    from each other. If you are interested feel free to shoot me an email.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the way!
    Here is my web blog seo myths

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 31, 2013 5:05 PM  

  • Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This
    is an extremely well written article. I'll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.
    My webpage :: strontium supplement

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 01, 2013 5:03 PM  

  • I know this if off topic but I'm looking into starting my own blog and was curious what all is needed to get setup? I'm assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I'm not very internet savvy so I'm not 100% sure. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Cheers
    My webpage - web design cheltenham

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 02, 2013 3:10 AM  

  • Normally I do not read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this
    write-up very compelled me to take a look at
    and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me.
    Thanks, quite great post.
    My website : shop online once

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 02, 2013 8:11 PM  

  • Hello friends, pleasant post and nice urging commented here, I am genuinely enjoying by these.
    Also visit my web site ; university of alabama clothing

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 03, 2013 2:32 AM  

  • If some one desires to be updated with most recent technologies after that
    he must be go to see this web site and be up to date all the time.
    Feel free to visit my web-site ... http://Twinlet.Com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 03, 2013 6:46 PM  

  • I was recommended this website by means of my cousin.
    I'm no longer positive whether this put up is written by means of him as nobody else understand such unique approximately my trouble. You're
    amazing! Thank you!
    Feel free to visit my page : whole life insurance

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 04, 2013 4:39 PM  

  • My family members all the time say that I am killing my time
    here at web, except I know I am getting know-how all the time by reading thes
    fastidious posts.
    Feel free to surf my web site :: Activated Charcoal benefits

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 05, 2013 8:56 AM  

  • I'm not sure why but this web site is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I'll check back later on and see if the problem still
    Also see my website :: is 6 bananas and 4 glasses of skim milk daily healthy

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 05, 2013 9:24 AM  

  • I really love your blog.. Pleasant colors & theme.
    Did you make this web site yourself? Please reply back as I'm wanting to create my own personal website and would love to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Many thanks!
    Look at my web-site ::

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 08, 2013 3:17 AM  

  • Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it
    seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.

    You obviously know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your
    blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?
    Here is my web site ; lung health

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 12, 2013 3:31 PM  

  • Its like you learn my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the ebook in it or something.
    I feel that you could do with some percent to drive
    the message house a bit, however instead of that, this is wonderful blog.
    A great read. I'll definitely be back.

    Here is my blog -

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 23, 2013 8:19 AM  

  • I absolutely love your blog and find nearly all of your post's to be precisely what I'm looking for.
    Would you offer guest writers to write content for you?

    I wouldn't mind writing a post or elaborating on some of the subjects you write concerning here. Again, awesome weblog!

    My website ...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 24, 2013 5:03 AM  

  • After I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox
    and from now on every time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same
    comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you are able to
    remove me from that service? Thank you!

    My blog ::

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 24, 2013 7:45 PM  

  • Howdy this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors
    or if you have to manually code with HTML. I'm starting a blog soon but have no coding experience so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

    my web blog

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 26, 2013 12:03 AM  

  • Wow, this article is fastidious, my sister is analyzing these things,
    thus I am going to let know her.

    my weblog selling life insurance

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 27, 2013 7:55 AM  

  • I am actually thankful to the holder of this website who has shared this enormous piece
    of writing at at this time.

    Also visit my web page - cheap shopping

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 27, 2013 5:05 PM  

  • Hello, I enjoy reading all of your article post. I like to write a little comment to support you.

    Feel free to surf to my blog post ... website hosting seo

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 01, 2013 9:27 AM  

  • It's perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I've read this post and if I could I
    wish to suggest you some interesting things or tips.

    Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article.
    I wish to read even more things about it!

    Also visit my website :: business credit

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 09, 2013 12:34 PM  

  • My brother suggested I may like this web site. He used to be
    entirely right. This post actually made my day. You can not consider just how so much time I had spent for this info!

    Here is my website -

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 22, 2013 4:14 AM  

  • I'm extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it's rare to see a nice blog like this
    one today.

    Visit my blog post :: drinking coffee

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 23, 2013 12:49 AM  

  • Helpful information. Fortunate me I discovered your web site unintentionally, and I'm stunned why this twist of fate didn't took place earlier!
    I bookmarked it.

    Feel free to surf to my website - discount coffee beans

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 23, 2013 5:01 AM  

  • Just want to say your article is as amazing. The clearness to
    your submit is simply excellent and i can think you are a professional in this subject.

    Fine along with your permission let me to clutch
    your RSS feed to stay up to date with coming near near post.
    Thanks 1,000,000 and please carry on the rewarding work.

    my webpage ...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 20, 2013 2:33 PM  

  • Hi there it's me, I am also visiting this web page on a regular basis, this site is really pleasant and the users are actually sharing nice thoughts.

    my blog post:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 26, 2013 11:50 AM  

  • Digital Marketing service, the promotion of products or brands via one or more forms of electronic media, differs from traditional marketing in that it uses channels

    By Blogger Prottoy Digital, at December 26, 2017 1:19 PM  

  • It’s actually a nice and useful piece of info. I am glad that you shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.Recently I was visited a site which is full of and people also get information and update about all crack related software.So if you have some times,you also can visit the and keep yourself always updated. CrackTaking - Best Premium Crack Softwares Free Download

    By Blogger Cracktaking, at January 27, 2018 7:32 AM  

  • crackstools is a hub of software cracking tools including protection against the manipulation of software, serial number, hardware key, date checks etc. You can find full version software, activation keys, serial key, and license keys for lifetime, crack, patch, keygen in crackstools with easy download source.

    By Blogger crackstools, at February 04, 2018 5:06 AM  

  • Your blog is really interesting and inspiration to many. I'll be looking forward for more of your posts.
    obat benjolan di kepala
    jelly gamat qnc
    obat polip hidung
    obat benjolan di payudara
    walatra sehat sendi

    By Blogger Deden Hidayat, at May 11, 2018 3:32 AM  

  • I need this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has same topic with your article. Thanks, great share
    obat benjolan di pergelangan tangan 8-10
    cara menyembuhkan tumor rahang
    walatra zedoril-7
    cara mengobati gagal ginjal
    cara mengobati luka diabetes

    By Blogger Dewi Anjani, at May 12, 2018 4:07 AM  

  • By Blogger Lutfi Kurniawan, at December 11, 2018 9:16 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home