Why Don’t Scavengers Get Sick?

Why Don’t Scavengers Get Sick?


When a creature croaks, its natural defenses
fail and tiny decomposers start digging in within just five minutes. To deter bigger
carnivores in search of a meal, some feasting microbes produce toxins like anthrax and botulinum,
tiny doses of which are fatal to much of the animal kingdom. Yet many scavengers get shoulder-deep
in dead meat without seeming to suffer – and we’re just beginning to understand how they
do it. Quality control is one of their earliest lines
of defense. Wolves and foxes have been known to pass up diseased reindeer carcasses in
favor of prey killed by other predators, although it’s not yet clear how they can tell the
difference. And, despite their reputation, spotted hyenas prefer to dine on fresh meat,
minimizing their contact with microbes. But sometimes, severely rotten flesh is the
only item on the menu. And some scavengers, such as burying beetles and vultures, actually
seek out putrid carrion because it’s easier to detect, dig into, and defend. To combat
the microorganisms in these meals, the beetles smear carcasses with antimicrobial slime before
feeding. Other scavengers prefer an after-dinner antibiotic.
Bearded vultures assault microbes with stomach acid that’s ten times more acidic than our
own, and strong enough to corrode steel. But some tenacious pathogens, including the ones
that cause botulism and tetanus, make it through this caustic cauldron and thrive in the intestines
beyond. We’re not sure how vultures survive their first few toxic exposures, but we know
that with each encounter, their immune systems churn out more and more antibodies, building
resistance to the toxins. Socializing can also give scavengers an immune
boost. Hyenas and lions, for instance, likely pass small doses of germs around as they groom,
eat, and compete with each other, which may help build up group-wide immunity to toxins
like anthrax. Similarly, we humans have established our
own herd immunity through controlled exposure to diseases like meningitis and smallpox – we
call it vaccination. But we have yet to beat botulism or anthrax, so perhaps we can scavenge
some of these scavengers’ tricks – after all, we have more in common with them than
we may like to admit.

100 Replies to “Why Don’t Scavengers Get Sick?”

  1. its also worth noting that Vulture's urine also often dissolves whats left of what they dont eat which destroys the infections the rotting bodies cause, meaning area's with high vulture density result in fewer bacterial outbreaks then area's with scarcer vulture population

  2. Excuse me, I enjoyed your drawing in this video but I find your narrative very weird and hard to understand. Maybe it’s me that is too stupid for your intelligent narrative but is it possible to use simpler sentences to describe what you’re saying?

  3. I wonder what the herd immunity of early hominids was like? Probably much wider and sturdier than ours, given that they were bona fide scavengers (and hunter-gatherers, but not as extensively as is commonly believed.)

  4. "It helps them know you're a minute earthling"
    If you just wrote and told them they'd think you were a little person.

  5. I'm no anti vax but these cunts have been injecting me with small pox? A disease that killed a sizeable amount of the population?

  6. Some people eat high meat. They put ,for example, raw liver in a jar for months and then eat it. Supposedly really good probiotic and it may get you high. Never tried it myself. It's crazy af

  7. Sorry to say this but this is total false information. Animals like hyenas, vultures and even dogs has a very acidic stomac gastric juice. This gastric juice kills and break down all the toxic bacteria. It has nothing to do with antibodies. Here is a a good article. https://eu.redding.com/story/life/2017/07/26/vultures-have-ph-public-health/504630001/

  8. So what you’re saying, this is an entire video on things we’re not sure about. At least we got that sponsor plug for a product you don’t use.

  9. Where I live in Central Florida we get hundreds of vultures that come each year. Once in awhile one does die and I've seen the other vultures eat him.

  10. Anti-vaccine: oh my god fuck your vaccines
    Dr: have this anti-vaccination
    Anti-vaccine: I don’t feel so good dr because it’s poison

  11. Funny how it is the MICROSCOPIC, invisible beings, and not the visible or gigantic ones, that RULE the planet. Size does not matter when it comes to survival of the fittest !

  12. So if I lick and kiss my best friend (who is pretty hot and has a great mentality) it will create a defense. AWSOME!

  13. While these guys can eat dead bodies we can’t consume water with 3% salt and it’s the most common type of water

  14. I think baby vultures survive because the mother eats it first and when she regurgitate it, there are less toxins because the mothers stomach acid kills off most of them

  15. Humans like to glorify themselves as "Predators", straight ahead "carnivores". But as we can see, most people are too cowardly and squeamish to actually track down, hunt and kill, close up and personally, their own prey. They prefer to pay someone else to do the (otherwise DANGEROUS) dirty, bloody work for them. And it's NOT EVEN HUNTING proper, they raise the animals, caring for them as if they were some kind of offspring/pet, they then turn on the animals and butcher them in an act of betrayal. Pretty dishonest. Then, they cut it up, "dress it up" and present it for sale, the meat doesn't even LOOK like a butchered animal. Americans, specially, do not like to look at butchered animal's bodies, specially it's head and IT'S EYES. One can see this in, for example, fish. Americans do not want a whole fish presented to them, with the head INTACT, they are SQUEAMISH about looking at the fish's head and EYES. Let's face it, MOST people that eat the dead (rotting), corpses of animals are NOT predatory carnivores, (except for hunters who are at least HONEST), they eat what other human animals kill; THEY ARE SCAVENGERS.

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