biology zoology blog taste tastebud

The Great Motivator Taste

Wasn’t it Columbus’ reason to discover America?

The sense of taste in humans, compared with that of other creatures, is poorly developed. For example, the threshold for tasting alcohol requires a 20,000 times greater concentration than that, which elicits a response in our olfactory receptors of the nose. Yet, we owe it to taste, not greed for gold or missionary zeal, that Columbus departed westward in search of a shorter route to the “Indies” and that Vasco da Gama a little earlier had successfully navigated around the tip of Southern Africa. European food in the Middle Ages must have been terribly bland and boring and to make it at least halfway palatable spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom, to name but three, were precious and needed from the Orient, from the “Indies”. —>—>

biology zoology blog animals at play

Animals at Play

Which animals do play?

Two lectures in my animal behaviour class were devoted to animal play. But how to define “play” and how to know that animals are at play? Play is an energetically-demanding activity, occupying a considerable percentage of time in many a species’ life and it is not usually leading to food acquisition. While it is generally accepted that a playing animal is more at risk than a non-playing one (after all it makes itself more conspicuous; it can injure itself; it can even get lost), there must be some pay-off, some evolutionary benefit in addition to the simple enjoyment factor associated with play. —>—>

biology zoology blog bee insects honey

Bee Prospectors

Bee Prospectors can be paid for their services in sugar water

Not only was I good as a child in distinguishing (by taste) different kinds of tea, like Ceylon broken orange pekoe, Assam orange pekoe or Darjeeling flowery orange pekoe (well, my grandfather was a tea merchant), I also had a good tongue for different kinds of honey – and I still have my favourites. Actually for hundreds or even thousands of years (the bee is said to have been mentioned in the Bible at least 40 times) the medicinal qualities of honey have been appreciated by humans around the world and many a folk remedy incorporates this sticky insect product. —>—>