The consumption of rotten food items makes us ill and sometimes is fatal in nature. But why the scavengers like vultures don’t fall sick after eating such stale and decaying items.
The answer is their unique digestive system. According to the researchers, vultures possess a digestive system that holds the potential to tolerate the hazardous effects of harmful toxins and destroy the dangerous bacteria present in the stale food items.
The new study shows how the strong stomach acid of these scavengers allows a diet of rotten carcasses.
For the study, the researchers mainly focused on the DNA of bacteria that were found in the stomach of the vultures. They discovered hundreds of bacteria on the beak but only two out of them were found dominating their guts.
According to the researchers, the vultures have “extremely selective” type of gastrointestinal tracts as they can easily choose which bacteria should be destroyed. Scientists said such findings clearly suggest that vultures “evolved alongside their food sources”.
Study co-author Michael Roggenbuck, from the University of Copenhagen, said, “On one hand, vultures have developed an extremely tough digestive system, which simply acts to destroy the majority of the dangerous bacteria they ingest. And on the other hand, they also appear to have developed a tolerance level toward some of the fatal bacteria species that would kill other animals actively seem to flourish in the vulture lower intestine.”
The study was published on Tuesday in the journal Nature.