Strange species: we still don't know the name of the perfume used by puffins.
Strange species: we still don't know the name of the perfume used by puffins.
An orange-flavored meme

the species to be appreciated today is a "bird emoji package" with a unique smell. The crested puffin (Aethia cristatella), also known as the crested puffin, lives on the coasts and islands of the Bering Sea and the North Pacific. The appearance of this kind of bird is very cute.

"is it?"

photographer: Robert Royse

it also has an equally cute feature. The puffin's feathers give off a pungent orange fragrance, which comes from some short-chain, saturated, monounsaturated aldehydes. In the place where they breed, you can smell it from far away.

"smell ~"

photographer: Ian L. Jones

Why do they smell like this? Some aldehydes, such as hexanal (hexanal) and octanal (octanal), are effective repellents, so we take it for granted that the taste of auk has the function of controlling parasites.

however, finding evidence is much more complicated than conjecture. Hector D. Douglas, a marine biologist at the University of Fairbanks in Alaska (University of Alaska Fairbanks), accepted the challenge to test the deworming ability of auk odors. The problem is that although the hypothesis is good, the experimental results may not be to the satisfaction of the researchers. At first, the experiment was not very smooth. Douglas first tried to kill lice with aldehydes, which worked very well. Then switch to the feathers of crowned puffins, which are completely ineffective. He compared the number of lice between the crowned puffin and the Aethia pusilla, a close relative of the puffin, and they lived together, and found that the puffin had more lice than the puffin.


photographer: Otto Plantema

Douglas's experiment with ticks accords with the expected effect. He uses various aldehydes to blend into "puffin essence" in the laboratory and dilute it into a 10% solution, which is enough for ticks to escape. The inspection of wild puffins has also achieved gratifying results. among a group of 96 puffins, only two are infected with ticks, one with two ticks, one with 14 ticks, and the only puffin with many ticks is also the lightest.

Julie C. Hagelin and Ian L. Jones raised an objection. Their experiments found that puffin feathers placed in a petri dish did not drive out ticks. As a result, they point out that Douglas's "puffin essence" is too heavy to exceed the concentration of puffins in the natural environment, and that it has an insecticidal effect in the laboratory, which does not show that it still has an effect on wild puffins.

Douglas defended himself that the puffin feathers used by Hargreens and Jones were not properly preserved, aldehydes had been lost, and puffins in the natural environment were more "fragrant." He diluted the artificial puffin essence to the concentration of natural puffins and found that it still had the effect of deworming.

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the orange aroma of the crowned puffin still leaves us with many problems. However, we should not be discouraged by the uncertainty of the facts. Science develops in the midst of uncertainty.

and they are really cute.

"hold back and kiss me."

photographer: Jacob S. Spendelow

this article is reproduced from the Squirrel Nest of Sex Shrimp. Scan the code to follow the author to know more stories about strange species ~