FEB 14, 2017 12:21 PM PST

Why Have Some Animals Evolved to Swallow Food Whole?


We might chew our food because we have tiny mouths and throats, but there are actually tons of animal species out there that prefer to swallow their food whole and have jaws capable of expanding wide enough to make this possible.

A recent study revealed the capabilities of the dragonfish, which appear to have a hinge joint in their heads that has never really been seen in a fish species before. This allows the dragonfish to effectively open their jaws as much as 120º. This number is, of course, dwarfed by snakes, which can sometimes open their jaws by as much as 180º.

Once the jaws are open, it's a matter of using their sharp, inward-pointing teeth to trap the prey so they can't escape, then slowly walking them into the stomach with special muscles dedicated to the process. In snakes, the creature just continues to move forward until the mouth completely engulfs its prey - the dragonfish on the other hand probably uses forward swimming momentum to do the same.

So why do some animals swallow their food whole rather than chewing it to bits like we do? Some experts believe that it's probably because of energy consumption. Some creatures have more of a need to conserve energy than others, especially dragonfish, which live at extreme oceanic depths and don't see much prey.

These kinds of creatures have stronger stomach acids that can break down even harder substances, like bones and eggshells.

So, is swallowing food an evolutionary advantage that lets creatures conserve more of their energy while eating? Some might agree so, but it's still not much more than a theory at this point in time.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 17, 2018
Videos
SEP 17, 2018
How THC Binds to Cannabinoid Receptors in the Brain
Seconds after marijuana is consumed it begins to affect your brain. The main cannabinoid produced by the cannabis plant is called THC (tetrahydrocanna...
SEP 18, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 18, 2018
When Will Earth Experience Another Chelyabinsk-Like Meteor Event?
In 2013, a notably-sized meteor exploded over the sky in Chelyabinsk, Russia. The shockwave from this event was so powerful that glass windows were shatter...
SEP 26, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 26, 2018
Musical Instrument-inspired Chemical Sensor
The connections between art and science are everywhere. To find them one needs a pair of curiosity-driven eyes, or ears. According to a recent article in t...
OCT 04, 2018
Videos
OCT 04, 2018
Cannabis and Its Fight Against Cancer
Cannabis is known to treat nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy. Most recent studies have revealed that THC and other cannabinoids are able to slow...
OCT 10, 2018
Videos
OCT 10, 2018
Are Personality Tests Scientifically Accurate?
Personality tests like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and others are used to find out what a person is like, internally. They measure reac...
OCT 13, 2018
Videos
OCT 13, 2018
Why you shouldn't give a baby water
Did you know that babies shouldn't drink water before they are at least six months old? That's because, while human adults are composed of 55-60% w...
Loading Comments...