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Incedental Gut bacteria intake and diet switching (was RE: Willie Wonka and the New Papers)

I would be interested if anyone has a ref for this topic...interesting. It's
probably in some well known book that's on my list of 'books to read because
I already should have'.

(I would imagine it would be (obviously) even easier for an omnivore to
switch rapidly to more herbivorous diets using this mechanism,
'behaviourally' they'd be more open to 'go with it' and some of the
morphology would be at least partially useful.)


> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu] 
> On Behalf Of Tim Williams
> Sent: Wednesday, 19 March 2008 5:11 PM
> To: riversleigh@outbackatisa.com.au; dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: RE: Willie Wonka and the New Papers
> John Scanlon wrote:
> > Then saw Eike's footnote about diet-switching, which 
> reminds me of an 
> > idea
> > that: it may be easier than you'd expect, because animals pick up 
> > bacteria
> > (etc.) capable of predigesting food items from the food itself. I 
> > don't know if this has been published or discussed 
> anywhere, but I've 
> > thought about it before, and it appeals as (potentially) 
> one of those 'behaviour-first'
> > evolutionary mechanisms that Lamarck would have approved (I had a 
> > zoology lecturer once, Don Anderson at Sydney Uni, who 
> liked that sort 
> > of thing and thought Lamarck was misunderstood).
> Ha!  I remember Don Anderson.  He was a wonderful lecturer, 
> of the old chalk-and-blackboard variety.  
> > Favourite prey-switching example: Piranhas _Serrasalmus_, from 
> > floating fruit (bobbing for 'apples' from underneath) to swimming 
> > vertebrates. There are old anecdotes of pythons eating mangoes, but 
> > this is either not confirmed or not studied AFAIK.
> I've heard this proposed as a mechanism to explain the 
> transition from carnivore to herbivore.  The predator 
> accidentally ingests plant matter while gobbling up a 
> carcass, and picks up plant-digesting microbes  from the 
> carcass's viscera (also by accident).  The morphological 
> changes (dentition, viscera, etc) would have to be genetic, 
> but the hard work of breaking down plant matter (especially 
> cellulose) is mostly done by symbiotic microbes.
> Cheers
> Tim
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