Pitahu is a venomous bird from New Guinea
Categories: AnimalsBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/pitahu-is-a-venomous-bird-fromnew-guinea
Even if you are not too strong in zoology, you will surely be wary of spiders, snakes and suspicious insects. But there are creatures in the world that only a specialist can recognize the danger of. Bird from New Guinea with the funny name pitahu definitely does not cause concern. Meanwhile, it is necessary to be afraid of it, because touching it can cause serious health problems, and in some cases even death.
For centuries, scientists have believed that poisonous birds do not exist. Pitahu, or two-colored thrush flycatcher (Pitohui dichrous), became the first toxic bird known to science. The discovery happened in an accidental and unpleasant way. An ornithological expedition caught birds in the jungles of New Guinea. Thrush flycatchers scratched the hands of several scientists and they soon became ill.
Their tongue and lips became numb, and later nausea began. Fortunately, everything ended well, and the symptoms disappeared on their own. Later it turned out that the injured involuntarily brought the wounds to their lips and the poison got on the mucous membranes. Toxicologists paid close attention to the pitah and poison was found in the feathers, skin and some internal organs of the bird.
It was a protein compound similar in formula to batrachotoxin contained in the secretions of poisonous tree frogs. The mucus covering the skin of amphibians is 100 times more poisonous than strychnine. One touch to it can be fatal for a person. But the pitahu bird toxin turned out to be much weaker than batrachotoxin. He can kill only in the case of hypersensitivity of a person to this substance.
But for small animals, a meeting with a thrush flycatcher becomes fatal. The poison that covers the feathers of a bird is capable of killing a cat, a rabbit or a medium-sized dog. If you extract all the poison from the pitahu, it will be enough to kill 800 mice!
Scientists still don't know exactly why a bird of prey doesn't need such a strong poison. It is possible that the pitahu, which grows to the size of a starling, thus protects itself from other large birds and animals. But there is also another version. Ornithologists have noticed that pitahus living in zoos or simply taken to other regions of the planet lose their toxicity. The reason for this was hidden in the diet of the bird.
In the native tropical jungles of New Guinea, the thrush flycatcher feeds on small nanisani beetles. They contain the same poison that permeates the pitahu through and through. The substance, getting into the digestive tract of a bird, is absorbed by its body without harm and accumulates in the tissues. But it is worth removing these bugs from the bird's diet, as the pitahu loses its venom.
By the way, these insects supply poison not only to the pitah. In 2000, another poisonous insectivorous bird was discovered in the same New Guinea — the blue-headed ifrit.
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