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Camels Eat Cacti With Their Super-Gross Fingered Mouths

We have for you here another example of Mother Nature making something super gross and super awesome simultaneously — in this case, we’re talking about really weird camel mouths, and how they chomp up cacti like it ain’t no thing but a spiked-chicken wing.

The video of the awe- and revulsion-inducing camel mouths chomping up some cacti (via Boing Boing) was posted by the camelsandfriends channel on YouTube. And we’re going to guess that as you watch the video and then look at the pictures below, you’ll experience thoughts of how amazing camels are, quickly followed by thoughts of how your skin hurts because it’s crawling so hard.

See, the reason these camels are able to bite, chew, and gulp cacti is because of their keratinised papillae. In other words, they have little hardened, wiggly “fingers” in their mouths, which are sensitive, and help the camel to avoid damage to its mouth. They’re pictured below in a tweet put out by Darren Naish.

Here’s a partial quote from redditor tea_and_biology’s explanation of the biological phenomenon, which was posted to Reddit:

“Camel mouths are full of cone-shaped papillae that look like this. These protrusions are partly keratinised – keratin being the hard stuff your nails are made out of – which makes them tough n’ semi-rigid, feeling a bit like the middle of tupperware lids when you squish ’em. The plastic-ey cones not only help protect the mouth from internal damage – scratches, abrasions etc. – when they feed on thorns and other nasties, but they also manipulate the food to go down in one direction.”

Perhaps the most astounding aspect of this camel-cacti occurrence is the fact that despite the hardness of the papillae, camels do indeed feel a lot of pain while they’e eating the spiky plant, but they just work through it. On top of that, according to camel aficionado Miles Burton on Quora, camels can even get cacti pieces stuck in their faces for long periods of time. Which kind of makes you wonder about how delicious these dang cacti are.

What are your thoughts on these rough ‘n’ tough camel mouths? Let us know in the comments!

Images: YouTube / camelsandfriends 

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