An organism that eats both plants and animals. Omnivores differ from herbivores (plant-eaters) and carnivores (animal-eaters). Humans are naturally omnivorous, but many choose to be vegetarian or vegan.

The word omnivore derives from the Latin words omne, meaning “all” or “every,” and vorare, meaning to devour. It is not a taxonomic term and thus is not useful in classifying species. It is used more as a descriptive adjective than a food-eating classification. An omnivorous insect eating nectar may be more appropriate in this sense than a swarm of ants devouring an entire tree.

Omnivores have evolved various traits to allow them to consume both plant and animal foods. For example, they have sharp incisors and canines to rip into meat, as well as grinding molars for chewing plant matter. They also have a special digestive tract that is able to process both plant and animal foods.

A classic example of an omnivore is a bear. They are herbivores when it comes to the majority of their diet, but they are also scavengers that roam the woods and mountains looking for any trash left behind by other omnivorous wildlife. Bears need to scavenge to find enough energy to keep them alive during their long hibernation period.

The omnivores of the world are a fascinating example of evolution in action. Most species are evolutionarily geared toward one form of nutrition or another, but they will deviate from this when it becomes necessary for survival. The omnivorous Virginia deer is an example of this. It is usually considered a herbivore, but it has been observed capturing and eating birds.

While the diets of omnivores vary, most have developed a variety of adaptations to help them survive in different environments. For example, some omnivores have developed glands that produce essential oils to help them digest fats and proteins. Others have developed a highly acidic stomach to help them break down tougher foods, such as bones and shellfish.

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