Adaptation In Action

Here’s something cool!

New research into the world’s only venomous primate, the slow loris, may offer some insight into the origins of human cat allergies.

Cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies in humans, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not Fluffy’s feline fur that causes those itchy, watery eyes, it’s actually a reaction to a protein found on cat skin called Fel d 1.

When an international team of researchers led by University of Queensland’s Associate Professor Bryan Fry, analyzed the DNA sequence of slow loris venom from the Cikananga Wildlife Rescue Centre in Indonesia, they discovered that the venom is virtually identical to the allergenic protein on cats.

Their idea: since slow lorises use this protein as a defense against predators, then cats may be using the allergen as a defense too.

Why is this cool?

As Fry explains in the article, “this finding shows how inventive nature is when developing new toxic arsenals” – triggering uncomfortable to potentially serious allergic reactions in others keeps potential threats as far away as possible.If cats secret a specific protein intended to keep us away from them, this leads naturally to the question: then why did humans ever domesticate cats? … which, of course, most friends of felines could counter with an alternative question… did we domesticate cats? Or did they trick us into feeding them and taking care of them? More on that in tomorrow’s post… stay tuned!

In the meantime, you can check out the research using this link:

#AdaptationIsAwesome #WeAreAllConnected