Monday, October 13, 2008

A Novel Use for Butterfliees. or Do Birds have tastebuds?

I was thinking about butterflies and mimicry the other night. The Monarch butterfly eats only one type of plant usually, the milkweed. Which contains a toxin in it that causes anything that eats it to gag and vomit.
Aha! I thought! Could this be used to our advantage?

The next time Amy Winehouse OD's, just gag the crazy bat with a Monarch butterfly!! That's one strange trip she's not likely to forget- Ever. And yes, I know, she smokes her drug of choice, not swallows, but still. It'd be fun to watch her eyes bug out at the the thought of being gagged with a, um, bug.

Back to my mimicry thought. The Viceroy Butterfly looks alarmingly like a Monarch, but without that awful gagging thing. I guess cuz they don't partake in milkweed.
Eat a Monarch- gag! Eat a Viceroy- not bad.

But then I thought- why? Why do birds gag when they eat the butterfly? Could it be because Monarch butterflies taste worse than 3 week old road kill found on I-10 right outside of Houston in August? If so, then birds must have taste buds, right? I mean, I've never looked that closely at a birds tongue, but if the butterfly tastes like warmed up shit, then birds gotta have taste buds. Come to think of it, I've never seen a birds tongue at all. I've seen a cow tongue (my mother used to make that for us, ughh) and my dog's tongue, and the cat's too, even my children's tongue from time to time, but no birds.

But if it's some type of drug interaction with the smooth muscle (I'm guessing here that a bird's throat is smooth muscle) that makes it spasm, thus regurgitating the offending item, then birds don't really need taste buds, do they? In fact, it's probably a good thing they don't in a situation such as this. I mean, it's bad enough to swallow something that nasty, but to have to taste it on the way back up? Oh- Hell No.

Well, I looked here, and they says birds have 27-59 taste buds compared to our 9,000. Guess that explains why their not picky eaters. But they taste bitter quite well.
The site goes into some detail about testing birds ability to taste and learn. It's interesting you should read it. But don't tell PETA or they'll become PITA's for whomever did they experiment.

Next up- Vulture eating habits.....

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