Trigona bee

Almost all bees get their nutrients from flowers. Pollen provides protein and nectar provides carbohydrates. A group of scientists have found three closely related bees of the genus Trigona that feed off dead flesh, rather than flowers. These “vulture bees” get their protein by chewing pieces of flesh from dead animals and gain additional carbohydrates from fruit and nectar produced by non-floral parts of plants.

According to UC Riverside news these species “have evolved an extra tooth for biting flesh and a gut that more closely resembles that of vultures rather than other bees.”

As with other insects, bees have symbiotic bacteria, known as the microbiome, in their guts to help them efficiently digest food. A group of researchers studied the microbiomes of the vulture bees to see if the carrion feeding bees had acquired a different microbiome from other bees when they changed diets. They concluded that in the transition from plant to animal food “vulture bees lost some ancestral ‘core’ microbes, retained others, and entered into novel associations with acidophilic microbes, which have similarly been found in other carrion-feeding animals such as vultures, these bees’ namesake.”

Doug Yanega, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside, commented: “These are the only bees in the world that have evolved to use food sources not produced by plants, which is a pretty remarkable change in dietary habits.”

References and Links: ScienceDaily, UC Riverside, mBio, 23 November 2021; doi: 10.1128/mBio.02317-21.

Editorial Comment: There is no evidence fossil or living that the “tooth” evolved after the bees tried to eat animal food. The tooth is just as useful for breaking into fruit, which they still eat in order to get sugars.

The transition from plant to animal food may have involved a change in microbiome, but that is not evolution. The bees have not changed, they have just managed to take advantage of other microbes that were already in the environment they lived in, and helped them digest animal food.

So, let’s put diets into a Biblical perspective. In the beginning all animals, including insects, ate plant foods using whatever teeth, jaws and other structures they had. Sharp teeth do not make an animal a carnivore because they are just as useful for cutting into plant foods. All animals have a microbiome in their digestive systems which is a complex mixture of many different microbes, and can vary enormously within the same species of animal, depending on where they live. Some of these microbes are passed on from parent to offspring, others are acquired from the environment.

The difference in bee microbiomes found in the study described above, is a good illustration of the change in microbiome that has enabled many creatures to add meat in the diets if they had access to it after Noah’s flood, when animals spread out over the earth to places where plant foods were no longer abundant or nutritious.

Creation Research News 1 December 2021

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