A new study claims that some tropical bees have recently become vultures. An American scientific team travelled to Costa Rica and discovered unique gut microbes that enable bees to digest the flesh of animal carcasses instead of nectar.
“These are the only bees in the world that have evolved to use non-plant-produced food sources. This is a very significant change in eating habits.,” said Doug Yanega, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside, in a press release issued on Tuesday.
According to scientists, unexpected changes in insects’ food preferences may be caused by “Fierce competition for nectar. “
During the study in Costa Rica, entomologists analyzed and compared the microbiomes of the bald eagle stingless bees with the microbiomes of their relatives that feed on meat and flowers, and those of the bees that only feed on pollen. They found the most extreme changes, such as the emergence of some new bacteria in their exclusive meat eaters who fed raw chicken.
“The microbiota of vultures is rich in acidophilic bacteria, which are new types of bacteria that their relatives do not have.“UCR entomologist Quinn McFredrick said.”These bacteria are similar to those found in actual vultures, hyenas, and other carrion animals, presumably to help protect them from pathogens that appear on carrion. “
The researchers pointed out that although vultures do not sting, many of them are “Very unpleasant. “Some of them produce blisters-causing secretions that may cause painful sores. However, scientists claim that the honey from these bees is sweet and edible.
“They store the meat in special secret rooms, which will be sealed for two weeks before entering, and these secret rooms are separated from the place where the honey is stored.“Macaro explained.
The scientific team has published this research in the journal mBio of the American Association of Microbiologists and plans to continue the research.
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