Science

Scientists say the world’s heaviest flying bird uses plants for self-healing

Scientists say the world’s heaviest flying bird uses plants for self-healing

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Taking drugs when you’re feeling down is old news to people, but new research shows they’re the hardest in the world bird capable of flight could be the latest animal to use plants as a form of medicine.

Researchers from Madrid, Spain studied data on 619 feces belonged to the great bustard and found that the two types of plants that ate more of the other foods in their diet had “antiparasitic effects.”

“Here we show that great bustards prefer to eat plants with chemical compounds with antiparasitic effects,” Luis M. Bautista-Sopelana, a scientist at Madrid’s National Museum of Natural Sciences and lead author, said in a press release Wednesday.

Found in parts of Europe, Africa and Asia, bustards are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, with about 70 percent of the world’s population living on the Iberian Peninsula, the statement said.

Published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution scientific journal on Wednesday, the study reveals that great bustards ate plenty of corn poppies (Papaver rhoeas) and purple snake (Echium plantagineum). in humans, corn poppy they were used for their medicinal properties as a sedative and pain reliever, while purple snake can be poisonous if consumed.

By analyzing the plant extracts, the researchers found that both have antiparasitic properties, which they tested against three common parasites in birds: the protozoan Trichomonas gallinae, the nematode Meloidogyne javanica and the fungus Aspergillus niger.

Both plants were highly effective in killing or inhibiting the effects of protozoa and nematodes, according to the study. Purple snake buglos showed moderate defensive activity against fungi.

The researchers noted that these plants were consumed specifically during the breeding season, which they believe negated the effects of increased exposure to parasites during that time.

They’re great bastards known as lek breeders, meaning males congregate in selected locations to put on displays for incoming females, who then choose a mate based on the display, the release said.

“In theory, both sexes of bustards may benefit from foraging for medicinal plants during the breeding season when sexually transmitted diseases are common – while males using plants with disease-active compounds may appear healthier, stronger and more attractive to females,” Azucena Gonzalez-Coloma, researcher at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences in Madrid and co-author of the study, she said in a statement.

Paul Rose, a zoologist and lecturer in animal behavior at the University of Exeter in England, said the findings show that great bustards are able to determine what is good for them at a given time and change their foraging behavior accordingly. He was not involved in the study.

“We usually associate self-medication in species like primates, so it’s great to see researchers studying endangered birds,” Rose told CNN.

Chimpanzees have been spotted catching insects and applying them to one’s own woundsas well as the wounds of others, possibly as a form of medicine, while dolphins rub against certain types of coral to protect their skin from infection.



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