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  1. #1
    Senior Member Feops's Avatar
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    Default Tasty meat - biological advantage?

    Plants seem to have a wide variety in taste based on if they want to be eaten or not. Berries for example have a high incentive to be consumed and spread by various animals, especially birds. Other plants are tough and bitter, or difficult to digest, discouraging casual consumption. Certain animals adapt to eat them anyway but that's besides the point.

    Now there are examples of animals with poisoned meat but they seem to be the minority. Many or most prey species have favor becoming difficult targets over removing themselves as targets entirely.

    I'm wondering why this is? Has there been any research done on it? There's no reproductive advantage for an animal to be eaten but perhaps there is a long-term advantage to sustained culling of the weaker members? Or, perhaps "meat" is too specialized (compared to various plant matter) and suffers significant drawbacks when altered in a way other animals would find unpalatable?

  2. #2
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    It's more a matter of the carnivores evolving to find meat tasty. In particular, the fat and glucose molecules in the muscle, which are just as useful in the body of the carnivore as in the herbivore.

    The composition of meat reflects its function more than anything. Structure is closely related to function in the body. If its composition was changed much at all, it would be useless.

    (that goes for non-muscle meat too; muscle is just easy as an example because it's most commonly eaten)
    -end of thread-

  3. #3
    Senior Member matmos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feops View Post
    I'm wondering why this is? Has there been any research done on it?
    There has indeed been extensive research, as written about in last month's New Scientist.

    The article was too long and boring to read, but I managed the first paragraph.

    Esentially, nuts and berries are eaten and there seeds are poo-pooed out by those naughty monkeys.

    Beef, on the other hand, has no seeds. Or nuts. Well the bulls do, but you'd be a fool to "plant" them.

    Imagine a beef nut. Or a sheep tree.

    Next.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Feops's Avatar
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    I must have phrased my original post poorly. I apologise for that.


    Random:
    Naturally meat is tasty to carivores because they evolved to value it. Just as plants are tasty to herbivores. Plants however seem to have diverged from prey animals in that few animals have chosen to reduce their attractive nature via toxins or otherwise spoil the value of their meats, instead favoring to escape or avoid predators outright. Plants don't have the escape option, but animals do have the poison option, and poison would seem like much less effort than active evasion. Thus my train of logic followed that perhaps having an attractive-yet-elusive package was an evolutionary advantage via culling. But I have no supporting evidence of such.

    Banana:
    I think I covered "certain plants want to be eaten" in the first line of my post. There was more to it than that.

  5. #5
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feops View Post
    I'm wondering why this is? Has there been any research done on it? There's no reproductive advantage for an animal to be eaten but perhaps there is a long-term advantage to sustained culling of the weaker members? Or, perhaps "meat" is too specialized (compared to various plant matter) and suffers significant drawbacks when altered in a way other animals would find unpalatable?
    LOL. You make it sound as though organisms can choose their survival strategies. It doesn't really work that way. In any event, there are many poisonous insects, frogs, fish, and also creatures that are unpalatable or difficult to eat because of defensive 'armour'. And many plants that are not poisonous.
    Nature solves problems in a variety of ways.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  6. #6
    Senior Member matmos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feops View Post
    I think I covered "certain plants want to be eaten" in the first line of my post. There was more to it than that.
    ^Quick editing. (I see what you did.)

    No, no. Your phrasing was fine.

    Sorry to interupt. Please carry on.

  7. #7
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluemonday View Post
    LOL. You make it sound as though organisms can choose their survival strategies. It doesn't really work that way. In any event, there are many poisonous insects, frogs, fish, and also creatures that are unpalatable or difficult to eat because of defensive 'armour'. And many plants that are not poisonous.
    Nature solves problems in a variety of ways.
    Exactly. Not to mention, the structure of muscle is so specialized for its function that a mutation there is far more likely to be harmful (alter function) than helpful (unchanged function while adding toxicity).

    Also, any toxin produced by mutation within 'meat' is almost certainly going to destroy the host animal if produced within it. Assuming prey and predator are both mammals, they will be almost always be susceptible to the same toxins.
    -end of thread-

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bananatrombones View Post
    Esentially, nuts and berries are eaten and there seeds are poo-pooed out by those naughty monkeys.

    Beef, on the other hand, has no seeds. Or nuts. Well the bulls do, but you'd be a fool to "plant" them.

    Imagine a beef nut. Or a sheep tree.

    Next.



    OP: Is this pertaining to only animals that eat meat, or humans as well?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Feops's Avatar
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    Randomnity: Ah yes, this was the type of feedback/opinion I was hoping for. So basically you're saying that alterations to healthy muscle would likely impair the host more than any benefit given.


    01011010: It's a musing on the evolution of plant vs animal defensive mechanisms so I guess humans would count. Humans cheat though.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feops View Post
    01011010: It's a musing on the evolution of plant vs animal defensive mechanisms so I guess humans would count. Humans cheat though.
    I wouldn't say you are comparing defensive mechanisms. For that to be accurate, you'd have to compare thorns with spikes, like roses with porcupines... or if you are comparing toxins, then stuff like nightshade with poison dart frogs.

    The tasty berry is part of a reproductive strategy - that is, seeds can travel farther and/or be with higher nutrient soil. There is no comparable advantage for animals being eaten - they cease to be alive when eaten. Comparably, it would not be an advantage for a plant to be tasty, only the parts it wants to spread - a very selective method.

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