Diastema(redirected from diastemata)
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an excessive interval or space between teeth in mammals, usually caused by reduction of part of the teeth. In most herbivorous animals the cuspids and sometimes the incisors are reduced. Similar diastemata occur in the upper and lower jaws of rodents, horses, kangaroos, and other animals. In ruminants, diastema occurs only in the lower jaw. In carnivores it takes place without reduction of teeth. One diastema occurs in front of the fangs of the upper jaw (providing space for the lower fangs), and another is behind the lower fangs (allowing room for the upper fangs during biting). In closing the jaws the fangs nest and form a solid closure, preventing lateral motion of the jaw and aiding in the holding of prey.