Examples of omnivores. From left to right: humans,[1] dogs,[2] pigs, walking catfish, American crows, gravel ant
Among birds the Hooded crow is a typical omnivore.

An omnivore (/ˈɒmnɪvɔːr/) is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter.[3] Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and animal matter, omnivores digest carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber, and metabolize the nutrients and energy of the sources absorbed.[4] Often, they have the ability to incorporate food sources such as algae, fungi, and bacteria into their diet.[5][6][7]

Omnivores come from diverse backgrounds that often independently evolved sophisticated consumption capabilities. For instance, dogs evolved from primarily carnivorous organisms (Carnivora) while pigs evolved from primarily herbivorous organisms (Artiodactyla).[8][9][10] Despite this, physical characteristics such as tooth morphology may be reliable indicators of diet in mammals, with such morphological adaptation having been observed in bears.[11][12]

The variety of different animals that are classified as omnivores can be placed into further sub-categories depending on their feeding behaviors. Frugivores include cassowaries, orangutans and grey parrots;[13][14][15] insectivores include swallows and pink fairy armadillos;[16][17] granivores include large ground finches and mice.

All of these animals are omnivores, yet still fall into special niches in terms of feeding behavior and preferred foods. Being omnivores gives these animals more food security in stressful times or makes possible living in less consistent environments.[18]

  1. ^ Beasley, DeAnna; Koltz, Amanda; Lambert, Joanna; Fierer, Noah; Dunn, Rob (29 July 2015). "The Evolution of Stomach Acidity and Its Relevance to the Human Microbiome". PLOS ONE. 10 (7): e0134116. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1034116B. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134116. PMC 4519257. PMID 26222383.
  2. ^ Dewey, T. & Bhagat, S. (2002). "Canis lupus familiaris". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  3. ^ Brooker RJ (2008). Biology. McGraw-Hill. p. 1326. ISBN 978-0072956207.
  4. ^ Pond G, Ullrey DE, Baer CK (2018). Encyclopedia of Animal Science - (Two-Volume Set). McGraw-Hill. p. 1350. ISBN 978-0072956207.
  5. ^ Bradford, Alina (25 January 2016). "Reference: Omnivores: Facts About Flexible Eaters". Livescience. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  6. ^ "Omnivore". National Geographic Education. National Geographic Society. 21 January 2011. Archived from the original on 9 January 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  7. ^ McArdle, John. "Humans are Omnivores". Vegetarian Resource Group. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Why Your Dog's Pedigree Goes Back 40 Million Years". Education. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Evolutionary History of Pigs – Domesticating Wilbur". Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Order Cetartiodactyla - Even-toed ungulates (and whales)". Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  11. ^ Evans, Alistair R.; Pineda-Munoz, Silvia (2018), Croft, Darin A.; Su, Denise F.; Simpson, Scott W. (eds.), "Inferring Mammal Dietary Ecology from Dental Morphology", Methods in Paleoecology: Reconstructing Cenozoic Terrestrial Environments and Ecological Communities, Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology, Springer International Publishing, pp. 37–51, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-94265-0_4, ISBN 978-3-319-94265-0
  12. ^ Sacco, Tyson; Valkenburgh, Blaire Van (2004). "Ecomorphological indicators of feeding behaviour in the bears (Carnivora: Ursidae)". Journal of Zoology. 263 (1): 41–54. doi:10.1017/S0952836904004856. ISSN 1469-7998.
  13. ^ "Diet and metabolism", Parrots of Africa, Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands, Wits University Press, pp. 159–191, 2012, doi:10.18772/22012125522.13, ISBN 9781868145911, retrieved 5 June 2023
  14. ^ "Cassowary". San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. 2022. Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  15. ^ Galdikas, Biruté M. F. (1 February 1988). "Orangutan diet, range, and activity at Tanjung Puting, Central Borneo". International Journal of Primatology. 9 (1): 1–35. doi:10.1007/BF02740195. ISSN 0164-0291. S2CID 40513842.
  16. ^ McCarty, John P.; Winkler, David W. (1 January 1999). "Foraging Ecology and Diet Selectivity of Tree Swallows Feeding Nestlings". The Condor. 101 (2): 246–254. doi:10.2307/1369987. JSTOR 1369987.
  17. ^ Superina, Mariella (1 March 2011). "Husbandry of a pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus): case study of a cryptic and little known species in captivity". Zoo Biology. 30 (2): 225–231. doi:10.1002/zoo.20334. ISSN 1098-2361. PMID 20648566.
  18. ^ Shute, Nancy (20 April 2012). "For Most Of Human History, Being An Omnivore Was No Dilemma". NPR. Retrieved 3 April 2016.

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