Fun Fact Friday: Did you Know That Birds are Immune to the Spiciness of Chili Peppers?

Humans and mammals are very sensitive to capsaicin, the chemical in chili peppers that make our mouths burn. But did you know that birds don’t feel the burn like we do? In 2001 a study was performed to see if chili peppers deterred animals and birds. The results showed that mice and rats avoided the chilies, but a certain bird in the study ate them “like candy”.

Humans and other mammals have thousands of taste receptors that capsaicin birds to and triggers the burning sensations of hot chilies. But birds either don’t have these receptors or have far fewer and are not bothered by the peppers. And since birds don’t have teeth to destroy any seeds and they pass through the birds’ digestive system unharmed, this probably accounts for the reason why chili peppers were able to grow so well in the wild thousands of years ago.

 

Source:
The Complicated Evolutionary History of Spicy Chili Peppers. Harvard University. November 29, 2012; http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2012/issue131b/

1 comment

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