Scavenging is a great strategy to find food for animals, but it comes with a dangerous side effect – toxins like anthrax or botulism. MinuteEarth uncovers how scavengers gain immunity to these toxins present in their rotting food.
Microbes start to decompose a dead animal within 5 minutes. Microbes release harmful toxins like anthrax or botulism during decomposition, which deter other animals from eating the rotting meat. Scavengers, however, happily feed on these dead animals. To avoid getting sick from these toxins, scavengers employ defenses like antibiotic slime or stomach acid. Additionally, with each meal, a scavenger strengthens its immune system against the toxins. Immunity is then further fostered between scavengers through normal social behavior. Understanding these defenses can help develop human defenses against diseases we don’t have vaccinations for.