Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Birds and Cigarette Butts

 Birds use cigarette butts in nests to deter parasites.  This works.  Unfortunately, cigarettes are toxic and harm the genes of the chicks.  That's as far as scientists got.

The interesting part happens afterwards.  Can the birds evolve around the damage?  That is, can they learn to use cigarette butts as pesticide while developing immunity to the toxic effects?  This seems plausible given how many species have developed immunity so they could eat or live in other toxic plants.  Since the relevant birds are small with fast lifespans, and prolific, that gives them pretty good odds.  I'd love to repeat that study in 10 years and see if the numbers have shifted.
Tags: nature, news, safety, science, wildlife
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