Chapter

Food Acquisition and Processing in Primates

pp 283-301

Chewing It over: Basic Principles of Food Breakdown

  • P. W. LucasAffiliated withUnit of Anatomy in relation to Dentistry, Guy’s Hospital Medical School
  • , D. A. LukeAffiliated withUnit of Anatomy in relation to Dentistry, Guy’s Hospital Medical School

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Abstract

In order to meet their metabolic needs, mammals achieve a faster rate of digestion by adding oral processing of solids to the sequence of digestive processes which occur further down the gut. They presumably evolved a mechanical system, rather than increasing the length of their guts, because the cost of mechanical processing is less than the cost of carrying around very large quantities of food. Since increased locomotor activity accompanied, and may have depended on, an increased metabolic rate in comparison to reptiles (Martin, 1980), an increase in inert bulk is not a good solution to the problem.