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”. —>—>

Home with a Smell

You can’t miss it even from a distance

I seem to particularly like animals that have few friends. Some in fact, which I find fascinating, are despised by the general public. Perhaps I feel sorry for creatures whose only handicap is that they are not cuddly or cute – and this includes slugs; naked “slime balls” as they are called by some and “detested garden pests” by others. What all those slug haters are unaware of, I suppose, is that folk medicinally therapeutic uses of slugs and their slime include treatments for skin problems like acne and dermatitis, inflammation, calluses and warts and that the cosmetics industry of today also still has some applications for them. —>

taste sense insects flies

Tasting with their Feet

A way to find out what’s good before you put it in your mouth

Have you ever thought how practical it would be if we could taste with our fingers? We would not have to bite into each apple or chocolate candy to locate the most delicious one – we’d simply run our fingers along and let them do the tasting. Sounds a bit like science fiction? Well, numerous insects and crustaceans actually taste this way. Taste and smell are so-called chemoreceptors, but smell operates over distances, taste requires physical contact (disregarding the remote taste receptors of snakes known as Jacobson’s or vomero-nasal organ, which will be the topic of a separate blog some day). —>