The world’s heaviest flying bird uses plants as a form of medication, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.
Researchers from Madrid studied data on 619 droppings of great bustards and found that two species of plants that were eaten more than other food had “antiparasitic effects.” Antiparasitic drugs are a group of medications used in the management and treatment of infections from parasites.
“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.
The study reveals that they are an abundance of corn poppies and purple viper’s bugloss. Corn poppies have been used in humans for their medicinal properties as pain relief and sedatives. The study found that both plants are very effective in killing or inhibiting the effects of protozoa and nematodes.
They even found that the plants were consumed in higher amounts during mating season, which they believe is to negate the effects of increased exposure to parasites.
Great bustards are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Around 70 percent of the world’s population lives in the Iberian peninsula.
This article by Hailey Kanowsky was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 25 November 2022.
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