May 17, 2005
Deer - Not Just Prey Anymore
Wasn't it Jurassic Park that had the line, nature finds a way? I guess it should not be surprising that the deer of Scotland would find a way to get their vitamins by eating flesh, but digestion is an area I always felt was exceptionally sensitive to evolutionary pressures. How could a noted herbivore ever just spontaneously "go carnivore"? What about all the digestive organs necessary to process foods that way? Has this deer changed biologically in order to adapt to eating flesh or what? Then again, many mammals all originated from a couple prehistoric creatures that were likely rat-like opportunists, I bet it's more likely that all mammals have the necessary equipment to process flesh as food, but years have passed and mammal species have focused on specific foods (like plants for deer). Therefore, this new carnivorous deer is just reaching back into it's past in order to leverage evolutionary traits it always had.
Red deer on the Scottish island of Rum may be eating the heads and legs of live seabird chicks as a way to get minerals they need to grow their antlers.
Posted by sorsha at May 17, 2005 3:23 PM
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