When we look at carnivores and herbivores, there are many differences between the two. When we look at their skulls, we can see these differences even more clearly and up close. Two major differences are eye placement and teeth.1

All of them have incisors, canines, and molars in their mouth. However, the function and shape of these teeth will be different. Because herbivores eat plants, they’ll use their incisors to bite apart pieces of vegetation, and their molars to grind down their food. Meanwhile, carnivores will have sharper canine teeth, which are used to pierce their prey and hold onto it. Their molars will be sharper in order to slice through the flesh of their prey.2

Looking at an animal skull, we’re able to see where the placement of their eyes is. This is important because it gives us insight into how well an animal can see and what their range of vision is. Prey species tend to have eyes on the sides of their skull, while predators have eyes in the front. This allows prey a wider field of vision so they can keep an eye on their surroundings in case a predator approaches. Meanwhile, predators will have a smaller field of vision, but better depth perception so they can make a more accurate attack.1&3

The evolution of front-facing eyes has been something that scientists have speculated about, especially about humans. There doesn’t seem to be a one-size-fits-all answer, as not all predators have eyes in the front. Scientists have speculated about this evolution coming from a need for better depth perception, for easier hunting at night, or, in the case of primates, for accurate perception while swinging through trees.3

Check out more about carnivores on our blog here!

All the best,

Chris & the WERC Team


  1. https://www.nhstateparks.org/getmedia/e9e30fbf-fa20-4666-bd8b-83b7537641b9/Reading_a_skull_worksheet

  2. https://www.desertmuseum.org/center/edu/docs/3-4_Hunters_skulls.pdf

  3. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20141013-why-do-your-eyes-face-forwards