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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ A great diversification of herbivorous and carnivorous forms developed from the insectivores.
▪ Again, the insectivores in closely related groups can coexist, whereas this is rare in the frugivores.
▪ In addition to these spiny insectivores there are two other armoured species, the extraordinary hero shrews.
▪ It is related to the hedgehog, or rather it belongs to the same family of insectivores.
▪ It is thought that the very first placental mammals were tiny insectivores, but no fossil evidence of them remains.
▪ The most primitive representatives are extremely similar to the insectivores.
▪ The very first mammals were small insectivores, probably very similar to this modern tree shrew.
▪ Until recently they were thought to be primitive primates but now science has put them firmly among the insectivores.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Insectivore \In*sec"ti*vore\, n.; pl. Insectivores (-v[=o]rz). [F.] (Zo["o]l.) One of the Insectivora.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1863, from French insectivore (1817), from Latin insectivorus, from comb. form of insectum (see insect) + vorare "devour, swallow" (see voracity).


n. 1 insect-eating animal or plant. 2 (context dated English) mammal of the now abandoned order Insectivora.

  1. n. small insect-eating mainly nocturnal terrestrial or fossorial mammals

  2. any organism that feeds mainly on insects


thumb|A robber fly eating a hoverfly

An insectivore is a carnivorous plant or animal that eats insects. An alternative term is entomophage, which also refers to the human practice of eating insects.

The first insectivorous vertebrates were amphibians. When they evolved 400 million years ago, the first amphibians were piscivores, with numerous sharp conical teeth, much like a modern crocodile. The same tooth arrangement is however also suited for eating animals with exoskeletons, thus the ability to eat insects is an extension of piscivory.

At one time, insectivorous mammals were scientifically classified in an order called Insectivora. This order is now abandoned, as not all insectivorous mammals are closely related. Most of the Insectivora taxa have been reclassified; those that have not yet been reclassified remain in the order Eulipotyphla.

Although individually small, insects exist in enormous numbers - they number over a million described species and some of those species occur in enormous numbers. Accordingly, insects make up a very large part of the animal biomass in almost all non-marine, non-polar environments. It has been estimated that the global insect biomass is in the region of 10 kg with an estimated population of 10 organisms. Many creatures depend on insects as their primary diet, and many that do not (and are thus not technically insectivores) nevertheless use insects as a protein supplement, particularly when they are breeding.

Usage examples of "insectivore".

Here, pangolins from Asia, carnivores from North America, hoofed creatures from Africa, European insectivores like ancestral hedgehogs, and even anteaters from South America mingled and competed.

And in the other direction came rodents and insectivores, cats, rhinos, mouse deer, pigs, and primitive types of giraffe and antelope.

A warm-blooded, fur-covered Sordes -and a fish eater, not an insectivore, but it's definitely a Sordes, there's no mistaking that!

There is an animal called a flying lemur, which has developed such a membrane, but it is an insectivore and not a primate.

But now they faced competition from other insectivores, the ancestors of hedgehogs and shrews—and from their own descendant forms like the notharctus.

The largest, like the giants, were leaf eaters, the midsized—those the size of Capo—took fruit, but the smallest, weighing under a kilogram or so, were insectivores, like their remote ancestors.

The living examples of the insectivores are small and rather unremarkable creatures such as the shrews, moles, and hedgehogs, and the earliest primates could not have been much different from these.

Their brains are somewhat more advanced than those of ordinary insectivores and they possess various anatomical characteristics which to a zoologist spell "early primate" rather than "late insec-tivore.

Vaguely he fathomed ancestry: one of the lines of tiny tree-dwelling insectivores expanded their scope to feed as well on nuts and carrion, quivering as the tread of giant reps shook the ground.

They were not insectivores, and even the flying ones were adapted to prey on fish, not flies.

His world had many bat species, not least the insectivores, like tiny winged mice.