Giraffes & Humans



I was reading a little 'Fun Facts' list when I saw GIRAFFES ONLY HAVE BOTTOM TEETH.
I think somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that from past visits to the Zoo, but had never really given it much thought.

Of course I had to research the validity of the statement; it's true (ish).




They only have bottom teeth up front.  That's how, if you've ever been to the Zoo and participated in the feeding, you haven't been bitten!  They have pads on the upper.
However, in the back of their jaw, they do have teeth on the upper and lower.

And although their entire jawbone is not filled with teeth, they still have the same amount as humans - 32!  Can you imagine the eating strength if we had molars just packed in the back like that?

This is where the part about nature comes in that is pretty fascinating. 
Most of the giraffe's dental anatomy takes care of itself and can be explained by it's eating habits. Their molars are a lot taller than that of a human -  theory being that their teeth take quite a beating from the roughness of the leaves and branches of their diets. Also in place to protect the giraffe from any possible abrasions from thorns and twigs are their lips and their saliva.
Their lips are thick and durable to sustain the constant grabbing and tearing necessary for eating. 

And the coolest thing?? Their saliva is like our Listerine!

Not only are their tongues and cheeks coated with papillae and gelatinous saliva to provide a thickness to the tongue, but the saliva creates a natural disinfectant should any abrasions occur.

EXTRA fun fact: A theory on the dark color of the giraffe's tongue is that it contains more melanin to protect it from the constant sun exposure during food searching. 
(Then what's a Chow's excuse?)

Either way, I learned a lot on this little tangent I went on.  It was a FUN FACT FRIDAY.
The main thing I brought away from it (hence the blog title of Giraffes & Humans) is this:
If Giraffe's teeth are thought to have evolved and serve such a magnificent purpose fitting specifically to their eating lifestyle, where does that leave Human dental anatomy to compare?

We cook, process, prepare and chop our foods to make them easier to eat.  But our diets are typically high in carbs and sugars that are prone to wear them down. We have to manually care for our teeth as we have no natural eating habits or mouth formation that does so. 
Is there any way you could see us evolving?
What would be beneficiary or require less manual care other than our current appliances?

Just some food for thought.

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