6 July 07

Why Chilis Are Hot

Coturnix sums up the evolutionary reasons for this here. Short version — this is a mechanism by chili peppers to deter mammal herbivory in favor of bird herbivory, since seeds that pass through avian digestive tracts are fertile, but seeds that pass through mammalian digestive tracts are not. It turns out birds lack nerve receptors for capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers hot.

Posted by at 06:02 PM in Nature and Place | Link |
  1. Fascinating! I wonder why humans enjoy the burning sensations caused by hot chilis? Funny that a trait evolved as defence against herbivory has had the opposite effect (increased demand for chilis worldwide as a cooking ingredient), but has nonetheless enabled it to massively expand in numbers and range due to artificial cultivation around the globe!

    richard    7. July 2007, 03:58    Link
  2. That is amazing. Plus, it’s always nice to see the word ‘herbivory’ used in a comprehensible sentence!

    Mike    11. July 2007, 06:01    Link

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