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Robyn Morrison

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Robyn grew up in Johannesburg and every family holiday was spent exploring the Lowveld or camping around Southern Africa. Her love of nature and conservation propelled her to complete her Masters degree at the University of Edinburgh’s school of Geoscience. Although this gave ...

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11 Comments

on Can Predators Taste?

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Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

Fantastic article Robyn! After reading it I have a couple of thoughts, most likely no answers, but something to ponder. I’ve experienced the smell and sight of an elephant carcass and it begs the question, do carnivores not care about smell as they eat. It’s rather a putrid odor and I can’t imagine eating anything that smells like that. So, as long as it tastes okay, smell is not a factor in the predator world? We eat with our eyes and also noses – if it looks good but stinks, we back away. Yet, it seems animals don’t mind. Another question is can animals differentiate between species they kill or scavenge? I’ve observed a pride of lions within 15 meters of a dying lion from another pride, yet they didn’t bother him. But I know lions cannibalize cubs that are not their own as well as other big cat cubs. Just seems strange but brings a whole new conversation to the campfire.

Ian Hall
Master Tracker

I have heard from a naturalist that fish can taste but some birds can’t, so if a penguin swallows a fish, it can’t taste it, but the fish can taste the penguin that’s swallowing it

A fascinating article

Lisa Antell
Master Tracker

Somehow during evolution of humans it was deemed necessary for our survival to be able to have complex taste buds. It is curious to speculate why? After all, it doesn’t really seem like we need to know how to discern tiny bits of flavors in one food or another. Other than for pure safety…….so fascinating!

Christa Blessing
Master Tracker

Very interesting article, Robyn.
Last year we watched lions kill a hyena but they didn’t eat it.
Interesting behavior of the animals

Valmai Vorster
Master Tracker

Robyn very interesting and I’ve learnt something today from your story on the senses of animals. But it goes by my comprehensive mind that predators eat meat that smells terrible. It seems that they eat to fill their tummies, nevermind the smell. It also looks as if they prefer certain animals to prey on, but if they can’t get that animals, then anything will do just to survive. Good story and it gets us humans thinking and taking note of what you have explained so clearly.

Francesca Doria
Master Tracker

Hi Robyn, very interesting, I knew that but it’s really amazing that predators can est putrid meat. To predation senses- the animal that fascinates me most is the shark, with its ampullae of Lorenzini, elecrtoreceptors able to detect electrical potential generated by the muscle contraction of prey. If hyena and canids have receptors for sweet taste it means that in some way they need it or they would eat that if they have the chance- I know of hyena eating literally anything, rolls of film celluloid included!

William Paynter
Master Tracker

Fascinating information on the animals at Londolozi. Great job Robyn and great update.

Irene Henkes
Digital Tracker

Thanks Robyn, very interesting read. It is amazing how much is known nowadays, compared to 20 yrs ago. I remember sitting next to a seriously dead, stinking dagga boy, who was being eaten by lions. I was happy to miss the dinner party, but had some questions like this as well.
Anyway, I think their sense of smell is different from ours as well. Simply because being too finicky doesn’t help them…….

Chelsea Allard
Digital Tracker

How interesting! I knew sweet things are always safe to eat for humans, but had not thought of the way tastes are or aren’t necessary in other mammals.

Karin Webber
Explorer

So interesting, thanks for the info Robyn!

Cally Staniland
Master Tracker

Superb blog Robyn! Well worth sharing but perhaps not around the dinner table !

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