World’s heaviest flying bird uses plants to self-medicate, scientists say.
Taking drugs if you’re feeling under the weather is old news for humans, but new research shows that the world’s heaviest bird capable of flight could be the latest animal to use plants as a form of medication.
Researchers from Madrid in Spain studied data on 619 droppingsbelonging to great bustards and discovered that the two species of plants that were eaten more than other foods in their diet had “ antiparasitic effects.”
“Here we show that great bustards prefer to eat plants with chemical compounds with antiparasitic effects,” Luis M.
Bautista-Sopelana, a scientist at Madrid’s National Museum of Natural Sciences and lead author, said in a news release Wednesday.
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Found in parts of Europe, Africa and Asia, great bustards are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, with around 70% of the world’s population living in the Iberian peninsula, according to the release.