About the Author

Ross Cheshire

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Ross was born and raised in Durban, spending many a family holiday in the northern parts of KwaZulu Natal. It is here that his love and passion for the African Bush developed. He decided to combine his love of working with people and ...

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on Sense Of Taste Among Animals

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Intriguing post, Ross. And the muddy faced hyena photo is superb.

Senior Digital Ranger

What amazing pcitrures. Thank you for sharing. I love the lion with it’s tongue out.

Absolutely fascinating article! Especially the number of taste buds. Nature is so incredible in how it discerns.

Fascinating blog with lots of new, interesting information.

Enhancing my education with your information about taste is appreciated. Thanks for helping me to grow and learn more about the natural world we live in. Thanks Ross.

Thanks for the very interesting blog, Ross.

Ross, Thanks for a great educational piece on taste. We have always wondered about taste in wildlife and you did a great job of explaining it!

Hi, this leads to the speculation about animals cleverness as well as other multiple factors. If herbivores have got so many taste receptors they also have many different nervous cells. Many axons and synapsis are a bonus. Birds have small brains, but the many neuronal connections make them very clever. Buffaloes are known for their refined behavioural techniques and there are many studies on the go about giraffes. The theory that the pure meat eaters are more intelligent is becoming obsolete. Wonderful pictures of giraffe and buffalo, perfect for TWIP

Wow, completely fascinating Ross!!

Senior Digital Ranger

Fascinating insights, Ross. Humans have decent sense of taste, although I gather our sense of sight (like some other primates) is exceptional in terms of the range of hues and colours we can see. That allows humans and baboons alike to identify ripe plants, fruits and the like. And interesting carnivores can’t taste sweetness! Makes sense …

Thank you Ross for explaining the dietary preferences and tastes buds with carnivores and herbivores. My goodness the hyenas have definitely got a strong stomach to be able to eat meat that is a week old and been in the scoring sun. Just look at the tongue of the male lion, I see they always lick the meat as well with that rough tongue. It is absolutely amazing how the herbivores detect the myriad chemicals and the carnivores can detect the meat if it is spoiled or good to eat.

Thanks for this interesting post Ross. It’s so true that as humans, off-putting smells of food usually indicate that whatever the offering is, should not be consumed. It seems that for hyenas, jackals, vultures, etc, the smell is not offensive at all and I’m curious about whether a big cat will bypass a days old carcass with plenty of meat left if the odor is too strong, and not even try to taste it. It is fascinating that the herbivores can eat their way through tree and bushes and successfully avoid the leaves that would be poisonous for them. There’s always something to learn….

Thanks Ross for a really interesting blog. Mentioning hyenas, and their very robust digestion, reminds me of a viewing I had in Marthly a couple of years ago. An adolescent elephant carcass (assumed to have died from natural causes) had been there for several days, and we could smell it before we saw it. 2 hyenas disappeared right into the cavity to feed, while numerous vultures scrapped outside. When the hyenas emerged they looked around then shot off at speed. The reason why they fled was obvious soon afterwards, when we saw the 2 Plains Camp males arriving!

The way we’ve all evolved makes perfect sense when factors of digestion, food type and availability is explained. I’m glad nature has created this system so we have clean-up crews such as hyenas and vultures to mitigate disease. I’ve read that in humans, the sweet taste is an indication of food “safety.” Similar to herbivores, a sweet tasting plant, fruit or berry lets us know it’s not poisonous. I’m not volunteering to taste test random plants in the wild though. 😉

So interesting!!! Thank you for that insight.

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10 April, 2798
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