|Weird fact of the day
||[Jul. 15th, 2016|05:45 pm]
Countdown is all about the word and numbers games, and mostly the weekly guest is the least interesting part of the show: too many sports personalities, or daytime TV presenters with pointless self-deprecating anecdotes. So I didn't have great hopes of Chris Packham (TV presenter and naturalist, who just happens to have a book out at the moment). In fact he has been fun, and today's snippet put together two facts about animal perceptions of taste in a truly striking way. Bearing in mind that this was not an in-depth explanation, and that I am writing from memory, it goes something like this:
Birds are capable of tasting the same five basic tastes as humans, but most species don't taste all five. Penguins only sense two tastes, sour and salty. This article, with bonus cute Gentoo penguin, hypothesises that they have lost sensitivity in the receptors that don't function well in the cold. It doesn't say whether this is the same factor which removes flavour from over-chilled wine, and means that a mixture that tastes too strong before freezing is fine as ice-cream - but I digress. Penguins have a limited sense of taste.
Fish, on the other hand, not only sense more of the basic tastes (four, at least, I think), some of them have taste receptors on the outside of the body as well as in the mouth (I can see how this would be useful for tasting the water they are swimming through).
So when a penguin swallows a fish whole, the penguin can't taste the fish that it's eating as well as the fish can taste the penguin.
You're welcome. Bonus Wikipedia quote: "Salmon have a strong sense of smell."