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Biting is a common
zoological Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is usually regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that studies the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and d ...
behavior involving the active, rapid closing of the
jaw The jaw is any opposable articulated structure at the entrance of the mouth, typically used for grasping and manipulating food. The term ''jaws'' is also broadly applied to the whole of the structures constituting the vault of the mouth and serv ...
around an object. This behavior is found in
tooth A tooth ( : teeth) is a hard, calcified structure found in the jaws (or mouths) of many vertebrates and used to break down food. Some animals, particularly carnivores and omnivores, also use teeth to help with capturing or wounding prey, tear ...
ed
animal Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms in the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe oxygen, are able to move, can reproduce sexually, and go through an ontogenetic stage ...
s such as
mammal Mammals () are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class Mammalia (), characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in females produce milk for feeding (nursing) their young, a neocortex (a region of the brain), fu ...
s,
reptile Reptiles, as most commonly defined are the animals in the class Reptilia ( ), a paraphyletic grouping comprising all sauropsids except birds. Living reptiles comprise turtles, crocodilians, squamates ( lizards and snakes) and rhynchoce ...
s,
amphibian Amphibians are four-limbed and ectothermic vertebrates of the class Amphibia. All living amphibians belong to the group Lissamphibia. They inhabit a wide variety of habitats, with most species living within terrestrial, fossorial, arbor ...
s and
fish Fish are aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish as well as various extinct related groups. Approximately 95% of liv ...
, but can also exist in
arthropod Arthropods (, (gen. ποδός)) are invertebrate animals with an exoskeleton, a segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. Arthropods form the phylum Arthropoda. They are distinguished by their jointed limbs and cuticle made of chitin, ...
s. Myocytic contraction of the
muscles of mastication There are four classical muscles of mastication. During mastication, three muscles of mastication (''musculi masticatorii'') are responsible for adduction of the jaw, and one (the lateral pterygoid) helps to abduct it. All four move the jaw la ...
is responsible for generating the force that initiates the preparatory jaw abduction (opening), then rapidly adducts (closes) the jaw and moves the top and bottom teeth towards each other, resulting in the forceful action of a bite. Biting is one of the main functions in most macro-organisms' life, providing them the ability to
forage Forage is a plant material (mainly plant leaves and stems) eaten by grazing livestock. Historically, the term ''forage'' has meant only plants eaten by the animals directly as pasture, crop residue, or immature cereal crops, but it is also use ...
, hunt,
eat Eating (also known as consuming) is the ingestion of food, typically to provide a heterotrophic organism with energy and to allow for growth. Animals and other heterotrophs must eat in order to survive — carnivores eat other animals, h ...
, build,
play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Google Play, a digital content service * Play Framework, a Java framework * Pl ...
, fight and protect, and much more. Biting may be a form of physical
aggression Aggression is overt or covert, often harmful, social interaction with the intention of inflicting damage or other harm upon another individual; although it can be channeled into creative and practical outlets for some. It may occur either reacti ...
due to predatory or territorial intentions, but can also be a normal activity of an animal as it eats, carries objects, softens and prepares food for its young, removes
ectoparasite Parasitism is a close relationship between species, where one organism, the parasite, lives on or inside another organism, the host, causing it some harm, and is adapted structurally to this way of life. The entomologist E. O. Wilson has ...
s or irritating foreign objects (e.g. burred
plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and included algae and fungi; however, all current definitions of Plantae ex ...
seed A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering, along with a food reserve. The formation of the seed is a part of the process of reproduction in seed plants, the spermatophytes, including the gymnosperm and angiospe ...
s) from body surface, scratches itself, and
groom A bridegroom (often shortened to groom) is a man who is about to be married or who is newlywed. When marrying, the bridegroom's future spouse (if female) is usually referred to as the bride. A bridegroom is typically attended by a best man a ...
s other animals. Animal bites often result in serious punctures, avulsions,
fracture Fracture is the separation of an object or material into two or more pieces under the action of stress. The fracture of a solid usually occurs due to the development of certain displacement discontinuity surfaces within the solid. If a displ ...
s,
hemorrhage Bleeding, hemorrhage, haemorrhage or blood loss, is blood escaping from the circulatory system from damaged blood vessels. Bleeding can occur internally, or externally either through a natural opening such as the mouth, nose, ear, urethra, ...
s,
infection An infection is the invasion of tissues by pathogens, their multiplication, and the reaction of host tissues to the infectious agent and the toxins they produce. An infectious disease, also known as a transmissible disease or communicable dise ...
s, envenomation and
death Death is the irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain an organism. For organisms with a brain, death can also be defined as the irreversible cessation of functioning of the whole brain, including brainstem, and brain ...
. In modern human societies,
dog bites A dog bite is a bite upon a person or other animal by a dog, including from a rabid dog. More than one successive bite is often called a dog attack, although dog attacks can include knock-downs and scratches. Though some dog bites do not result ...
are the most common types, with children the most common victims and
face The face is the front of an animal's head that features the eyes, nose and mouth, and through which animals express many of their emotions. The face is crucial for human identity, and damage such as scarring or developmental deformities may ...
s the most common targets. Other species that can exhibit such behavior towards human are typically aggressive
urban animal Urban wildlife is wildlife that can live or thrive in urban/ suburban environments or around densely populated human settlements such as townships. Some urban wildlife, such as house mice, are synanthropic, ecologically associated with and ev ...
s such as
feral cat A feral cat or a stray cat is an unowned domestic cat (''Felis catus'') that lives outdoors and avoids human contact: it does not allow itself to be handled or touched, and usually remains hidden from humans. Feral cats may breed over dozens ...
s,
spider Spiders ( order Araneae) are air-breathing arthropods that have eight legs, chelicerae with fangs generally able to inject venom, and spinnerets that extrude silk. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species div ...
s and
snake Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes . Like all other squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Many species of snakes have skulls with several more ...
s, micropredators such as
vampire bat Vampire bats, species of the subfamily Desmodontinae, are leaf-nosed bats found in Central and South America. Their food source is blood of other animals, a dietary trait called hematophagy. Three extant bat species feed solely on blood: the ...
s and hematophagic
arachnid Arachnida () is a class of joint-legged invertebrate animals (arthropods), in the subphylum Chelicerata. Arachnida includes, among others, spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites, pseudoscorpions, harvestmen, camel spiders, whip spiders and v ...
s (e.g.
mosquito Mosquitoes (or mosquitos) are members of a group of almost 3,600 species of small flies within the family Culicidae (from the Latin ''culex'' meaning " gnat"). The word "mosquito" (formed by ''mosca'' and diminutive ''-ito'') is Spanish for "lit ...
es,
flea Flea, the common name for the order Siphonaptera, includes 2,500 species of small flightless insects that live as external parasites of mammals and birds. Fleas live by ingesting the blood of their hosts. Adult fleas grow to about long, ...
s,
lice Louse ( : lice) is the common name for any member of the clade Phthiraptera, which contains nearly 5,000 species of wingless parasitic insects. Phthiraptera has variously been recognized as an order, infraorder, or a parvorder, as a resul ...
, bedbugs and
tick Ticks (order Ixodida) are parasitic arachnids that are part of the mite superorder Parasitiformes. Adult ticks are approximately 3 to 5 mm in length depending on age, sex, species, and "fullness". Ticks are external parasites, living by ...
s, whose " bites" are actually a form of sting-like puncture rather than true biting), or dangerous
wild Wild, wild, wilds or wild may refer to: Common meanings * Wild animal * Wilderness, a wild natural environment * Wildness, the quality of being wild or untamed Art, media and entertainment Film and television * ''Wild'' (2014 film), a 2014 A ...
carnivore A carnivore , or meat-eater (Latin, ''caro'', genitive ''carnis'', meaning meat or "flesh" and ''vorare'' meaning "to devour"), is an animal or plant whose food and energy requirements derive from animal tissues (mainly muscle, fat and other sof ...
s such as wolves, big cats,
bear Bears are carnivoran mammals of the family Ursidae. They are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans. Although only eight species of bears are extant, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the ...
s,
crocodilian Crocodilia (or Crocodylia, both ) is an order of mostly large, predatory, semiaquatic reptiles, known as crocodilians. They first appeared 95 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous period ( Cenomanian stage) and are the closest livin ...
s and predatory fishes (e.g.
shark Sharks are a group of elasmobranch fish characterized by a cartilaginous skeleton, five to seven gill slits on the sides of the head, and pectoral fins that are not fused to the head. Modern sharks are classified within the clade Selachimo ...
s, barracudas and piranhas).


Types of teeth

The types of teeth that organisms use to bite varies throughout the animal kingdom. Different types of teeth are seen in
herbivore A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example foliage or marine algae, for the main component of its diet. As a result of their plant diet, herbivorous animals typically have mouthp ...
s,
carnivore A carnivore , or meat-eater (Latin, ''caro'', genitive ''carnis'', meaning meat or "flesh" and ''vorare'' meaning "to devour"), is an animal or plant whose food and energy requirements derive from animal tissues (mainly muscle, fat and other sof ...
s, and
omnivore An omnivore () is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and animal matter, omnivores digest carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber, and metabolize the nu ...
s as they are adapted over many years to better fit their diets. Carnivores possess canine,
carnassial Carnassials are paired upper and lower teeth modified in such a way as to allow enlarged and often self-sharpening edges to pass by each other in a shearing manner. This adaptation is found in carnivorans, where the carnassials are the modified ...
, and molar teeth, while herbivores are equipped with
incisor teeth Incisors (from Latin ''incidere'', "to cut") are the front teeth present in most mammals. They are located in the premaxilla above and on the mandible below. Humans have a total of eight (two on each side, top and bottom). Opossums have 18, wher ...
and wide-back molars.Animal Teeth , Types of Teeth , DK Find Out. (2018). Retrieved October 28, 2018, from https://www.dkfindout.com/us/animals-and-nature/food-chains/types-teeth/ In general, tooth shape has traditionally been used to predict dieting habits. Carnivores have long, extremely sharp teeth for both gripping
prey Predation is a biological interaction where one organism, the predator, kills and eats another organism, its prey. It is one of a family of common List of feeding behaviours, feeding behaviours that includes parasitism and micropredation (wh ...
and cutting meat into chunks. They lack flat
chewing Chewing or mastication is the process by which food is crushed and ground by teeth. It is the first step of digestion, and it increases the surface area of foods to allow a more efficient break down by enzymes. During the mastication process, th ...
teeth because they swallow food in chunks. An example of this is shown by the broad, serrated teeth of great white sharks which prey on large marine animals. On the other hand,
herbivore A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example foliage or marine algae, for the main component of its diet. As a result of their plant diet, herbivorous animals typically have mouthp ...
s have rows of wide, flat teeth to bite and chew grass and other plants. Cows spend up to eleven hours a day biting off grass and grinding it with their molars.
Omnivore An omnivore () is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and animal matter, omnivores digest carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber, and metabolize the nu ...
s consume both meat and plants, so they possess a mixture of flat teeth and sharp teeth.


Carrying mechanism

Biting can serve as a carrying mechanism for species such as
beaver Beavers are large, semiaquatic rodents in the genus ''Castor'' native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere. There are two extant species: the North American beaver (''Castor canadensis'') and the Eurasian beaver (''C. fiber''). Beavers ...
s and
ant Ants are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from vespoid wasp ancestors in the Cretaceous period. More than 13,800 of an estimated total of 2 ...
s, the raw power of their species-specific teeth allowing them to carry large objects. In beavers specifically, they have a large tooth adapted for gnawing wood. Their jaw muscles are tuned to power through big trees and carry them back to their dam. In ant behavior, ants use their powerful jaws to lift material back to the colony. They can carry several thousand times their weight due to their bite and adapted to use this to forage for their colonies.
Fire ant Fire ants are several species of ants in the genus ''Solenopsis'', which includes over 200 species. ''Solenopsis'' are stinging ants, and most of their common names reflect this, for example, ginger ants and tropical fire ants. Many of the name ...
s use their strong bite to get a grip on prey, then inject a toxin via their abdomen and carry the prey back to their territory.


Dangers

Some organisms have dangerous bites that inject
venom Venom or zootoxin is a type of toxin produced by an animal that is actively delivered through a wound by means of a bite, sting, or similar action. The toxin is delivered through a specially evolved ''venom apparatus'', such as fangs or a st ...
. Many
snake Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes . Like all other squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Many species of snakes have skulls with several more ...
s and
lizard Lizards are a widespread group of Squamata, squamate reptiles, with over 7,000 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica, as well as most oceanic island chains. The group is paraphyletic since it excludes the snakes and Amphisbae ...
s carry a venomous saliva containing at least one of the major groups of
toxin A toxin is a naturally occurring organic poison produced by metabolic activities of living cells or organisms. Toxins occur especially as a protein or conjugated protein. The term toxin was first used by organic chemist Ludwig Brieger (1849 ...
s, which include
cytotoxin Cytotoxicity is the quality of being toxic to cells. Examples of toxic agents are an immune cell or some types of venom, e.g. from the puff adder (''Bitis arietans'') or brown recluse spider (''Loxosceles reclusa''). Cell physiology Treating ce ...
s,
hemotoxin Hemotoxins, haemotoxins or hematotoxins are toxins that destroy red blood cells, disrupt blood clotting, and/or cause organ degeneration and generalized tissue damage. The term ''hemotoxin'' is to some degree a misnomer since toxins that dam ...
s, myotoxins, and
neurotoxin Neurotoxins are toxins that are destructive to nerve tissue (causing neurotoxicity). Neurotoxins are an extensive class of exogenous chemical neurological insultsSpencer 2000 that can adversely affect function in both developing and mature ...
s. Spider venom
polypeptides Peptides (, ) are short chains of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. Long chains of amino acids are called proteins. Chains of fewer than twenty amino acids are called oligopeptides, and include dipeptides, tripeptides, and tetrapeptides. ...
target specific
ion channel Ion channels are pore-forming membrane proteins that allow ions to pass through the channel pore. Their functions include establishing a resting membrane potential, shaping action potentials and other electrical signals by gating the flow of ...
s, which excites components of the
peripheral A peripheral or peripheral device is an auxiliary device used to put information into and get information out of a computer. The term ''peripheral device'' refers to all hardware components that are attached to a computer and are controlled by th ...
, central and autonomic nervous systems, causing hyperactive
neurotransmitter A neurotransmitter is a signaling molecule secreted by a neuron to affect another cell across a synapse. The cell receiving the signal, any main body part or target cell, may be another neuron, but could also be a gland or muscle cell. Neuro ...
release and subsequently refractory paralysis.
Spider bite A spider bite, also known as arachnidism, is an injury resulting from the bite of a spider. The effects of most bites are not serious. Most bites result in mild symptoms around the area of the bite. Rarely they may produce a necrotic skin wound ...
s, or arachnidism, are mainly a form of predation, but also means of self-defense — when trapped or accidentally tampered with by humans, spiders retaliate by biting. The
recluse spider The recluse spiders (''Loxosceles'' (), also known as brown spiders, fiddle-backs, violin spiders, and reapers, is a genus of spiders that was first described by R. T. Lowe in 1832. They are venomous spiders known for their bite, which sometimes ...
and widow species have neurotoxins and necrotizing agents that paralyze and digest prey. There are several creatures with non-lethal bites that may cause discomfort or diseases.
Mosquito Mosquitoes (or mosquitos) are members of a group of almost 3,600 species of small flies within the family Culicidae (from the Latin ''culex'' meaning " gnat"). The word "mosquito" (formed by ''mosca'' and diminutive ''-ito'') is Spanish for "lit ...
bites may cause allergic wheals that are itchy and may last a few days; in some areas, they can spread blood-borne diseases (e.g.
malaria Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, tiredness, vomiting, and headaches. In severe cases, it can cause jaundice, seizures, coma, or deat ...
and West Nile fever) via transmission of protozoic or viral
pathogen In biology Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying themes that tie it together as a single, coherent field. For instance, all organisms are made up of cells that process ...
s. Similarly,
tick Ticks (order Ixodida) are parasitic arachnids that are part of the mite superorder Parasitiformes. Adult ticks are approximately 3 to 5 mm in length depending on age, sex, species, and "fullness". Ticks are external parasites, living by ...
bites spread diseases endemic to their location, most famously
Lyme disease Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is a vector-borne disease caused by the ''Borrelia'' bacterium, which is spread by ticks in the genus '' Ixodes''. The most common sign of infection is an expanding red rash, known as erythema mig ...
, but ticks also serve as
disease vector In epidemiology, a disease vector is any living agent that carries and transmits an infectious pathogen to another living organism; agents regarded as vectors are organisms, such as parasites or microbes. The first major discovery of a disease ve ...
s for Colorado tick fever, African tick bite fever, Tick-borne encephalitis, etc.


In humans

Biting is also an age appropriate
behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English) is the range of actions and mannerisms made by individuals, organisms, systems or artificial entities in some environment. These systems can include other systems or organisms as we ...
and reaction for human children 30 months and younger. Conversely, children above this age are expected to have verbal skills to explain their needs and dislikes, as biting is not seen as age appropriate. Biting may be prevented by methods including redirection, change in the environment and responding to biting by talking about appropriate ways to express anger and frustration. School-age children, those older than 30 months, who habitually bite may require professional intervention. Some discussion of human biting appears in '' The Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Female''. Criminally, Forensic Dentistry is involved in bite-mark analysis. Because bite-marks change significantly over time, investigators must call for an expert as soon as possible. Bites are then analyzed to determine whether the biter was
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedalism and exceptional cognitive skills due to a large and complex brain. This has enabled the development of advanced tools, culture, ...
, self-inflicted or not, and whether DNA was left behind from the biter. All measurements must be extremely precise, as small errors in
measurement Measurement is the quantification of attributes of an object or event, which can be used to compare with other objects or events. In other words, measurement is a process of determining how large or small a physical quantity is as compared ...
can lead to large errors in legal judgment.Shanna Freeman
"How Forensic Dentistry Works"
''How Stuff Works'', accessed June 28, 2019


See also

*
Chewing Chewing or mastication is the process by which food is crushed and ground by teeth. It is the first step of digestion, and it increases the surface area of foods to allow a more efficient break down by enzymes. During the mastication process, th ...
* Bite force quotient *
Animal bite An animal bite is a wound, usually a puncture or laceration, caused by the teeth. An animal bite usually results in a break in the skin but also includes contusions from the excessive pressure on body tissue from the bite. The contusions can occu ...


References


External links

* {{Animal bites and stings Ethology