Daily Smart Fact

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Posts Tagged ‘spice

Daily Smart Fact #16: Unlike mammals, birds are not affected by spiciness

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Key takeaway: Spicy peppers use bird droppings to disperse their seeds because birds have iron stomachs and buttholes.

I was reading this awesome infograph about insanely hot peppers and was intrigued to find out that birds are impervious to spice!  In fact, crazy hot peppers need birds to disperse their seeds because birds, unlike mammals, don’t have molars and therefore keep the seeds intact (instead of grinding them down to powder).

Here’s some info:

  • Capsaicin is what makes chili peppers hot and is also an irritant for mammals [according to wikipedia, man’s best friend]
  • Birds are the predominant disperser of capsaicin seeds because they don’t have receptors that capsaicin binds to and therefore unsusceptible to capsaicin as an irritant
  • Since mammals destroy capsaicin with their molars, the “spiciness” factor is probably an evolutionary defense to irritate the crap out of us mammals
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Written by Bea

May 31, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Posted in Birds

Tagged with , ,