Monday, August 01, 2005

The evolution of medication

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Grubs fight parasites with food

I've always been curious about the evolution of plant products that have pharmaceutical properties. Here we get a not unexpected clue as to how this happens:
Tiger moth caterpillars have been seen medicating themselves to treat a nasty influx of parasites.

Scientists found the caterpillars' sense of taste actually changed when they became infected with parasites.

Instead of avoiding certain alkaloid plants, the caterpillars actually developed a fondness for them.
What is particularly interesting, of course, is what's in it for the plants? I would not be surprised if it turned out the caterpillars in some way actually benefitted those plants -- normally caterpillars are not friends of plants!

I wonder how the anti-evolution people deal with this kind of discovery? Ahh, no puzzle really. They just come up with another angle ...

No comments: