How hummingbirds got their sweet tooth: Decoded

August 23, 2014 11:52 AM

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How hummingbirds got their sweet tooth: Decoded

Hummingbirds are rare among birds in their ability to taste sweetness. Avians tend to only have the ability to detect savory flavors. A new study shows hummingbirds evolved new forms of these receptors, able to taste nectar and other sugary food sources.

Taste bud receptors called T1R's bind to molecules in food, providing a sense of taste for the sustenance. In humans and other vertebrates, this group of receptors includes T1R2 and T1R3 varieties, which combine to provide a sense of sweetness. Birds do not possess T1R2 receptors, nor do they have g...

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