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From the Winter 2011 Conservationist for Kids

The skull and upper jaw of a deer

Did You Know?

By Gina Jack and Eileen Stegemann


Illustration of the head, neck and shoulders of a deer

Deer don't have upper incisors, so they tear, shred or roughly shear off vegetation when eating, rather than neatly snipping it like a rabbit.
General shape: (see large drawing above) elongated skull with a large gap on the lower jaw between the incisors and back teeth
Teeth: broad molars are quite sharp for cutting, slicing and grinding
Eyes: set somewhat to the side for better peripheral vision


A color illustration of a coyote

Coyotes eat mostly meat, but their diet is actually quite broad and includes deer, rabbits, rodents, carrion, fruit, birds and insects.
General shape: long, with a large braincase and elongated snout

Drawing of a coyote skull
Teeth: large, round, pointed canines for grabbing and stabbing prey, and blade-like premolars and molars for both shearing and crushing bones (carnivore)
Eyes: located on the front of the head; give the coyote binocular vision and better depth perception


Drawiing of a cottontail rabbit and its skull

Cottontails have very thin, light bones, which help the animal to run more quickly.
General shape: small and broad
Teeth: upper and lower incisors enable it to neatly snip off plants; cottontails have two pairs of upper incisors-a small incisor lies behind each large, deeply grooved upper incisor
Eyes: very large eye sockets located on its sides, giving a wide field of vision so predators can be seen more effectively


Illustration of a beaver stripping bark from a limbThe beaver's incisors automatically sharpen one another when the uppers meet the lowers. Constant gnawing keeps the teeth from growing too long.
General shape: skull and jaws are heavy and broad

Drawing of a beaver skull viewed from the front

Teeth: four large bright-orange chisel-like incisors (two on top, two on bottom) are deeply rooted in the skull and are used to fell trees for both food and building material
Eyes: eye sockets and ear openings are located high on the skull, making it possible for the beaver to see and hear while floating on the water's surface