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There's no accounting for taste.

Countless studies have indicated that animals avoid bitter foods. But some actually prefer acrid flavors, reports John I. Glendinning of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

While Glendinning was at Florida State University in Tallahassee, he studied the eating habits of two species of wild Mexican mice. He discovered that while none of the Perornyscus melanotis mice liked bitter flavors, seven of 64 Perornyscus azteca mice preferred quinine water over regular water. He then offered both species hop extract, tannic acid, and two other bitter substances. "These chemicals are really different, but nevertheless they all elicit similar responses," Glendinning told SCIENCE NEWS. "Individuals that prefer quinine were more likely to prefer other bitter chemicals;' up to a certain concentration.

Glendinning calls this the "Schweppes effect;' after the tonic water that some people prefer over regular water. Citing other studies showing that some goats, opossums, and squirrel monkeys like bitter foods, he suggests that many animals exhibit this effect, although he doesn't really know why, He suspects, however, that in foods - particularly plants bitterness may reflect higher nutritional content.
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Title Annotation:some animals prefer bitter flavors
Author:Pennisi, Elizabeth
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 8, 1993
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