Regurgitation (digestion)

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Flesh fly, from the Sarcophagidae family "blowing a bubble". One explanation for this behaviour is that it concentrates the fly's meal by evaporation. The diet of the flesh fly is very high in water content. The fly regurgitates the liquid portion of the food, holds it whilst evaporation reduces the water content and the fly then swallows a much more concentrated food meal without the water content. This continues until sufficient amount of liquid is left for the fly. - Australian Museum

Regurgitation is the expulsion of material from the pharynx, or esophagus, usually characterized by the presence of undigested food or blood.[1]

Regurgitation is used by a number of species to feed their young.[2] This is typically in circumstances where the young are at a fixed location and a parent must forage or hunt for food, especially under circumstances where the carriage of small prey would be subject to robbing by other predators or the whole prey is larger than can be carried to a den or nest. Some bird species also occasionally regurgitate pellets of indigestible matter such as bones and feathers.[3]

It is in most animals a normal and voluntary process unlike the complex vomiting reflex in response to toxins. Honey is produced by a process of regurgitation by honey bees, which is stored in the beehive as a primary food source.

In humans[edit]

In humans it can be voluntary or involuntary, the latter being due to a small number of disorders. Regurgitation of a person's meals following ingestion is known as rumination syndrome, a rarely diagnosed eating disorder. It may be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).[4]

A subset of people, most current or former bulimics, are able to regurgitate without using any external stimulation or drug, by means of muscle control.[5] Practitioners of yoga have also been known to do this.[6] Professional regurgitators perfect the ability to such a degree as being able to exploit it as entertainment.[7][8]

In animals[edit]

Moorhen chick being fed regurgitated food by an adult

Birds often employ regurgitation to feed their young. In the Blue-footed Booby, the chicks feed on regurgitated fish from their parents. Only one chick can feed at a time using this method, so there is always the emergence of a brood hierarchy. The dominant chick, who is usually older, is almost always fed before the subordinate, younger chick, and so in times of food hardship, siblicide may occur, where the dominant chick kills its younger sibling in order to sequester all his parents' resources.[9]

Regurgitation as a method of feeding is also seen in the Red-collared Widowbird.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nelson, R.W. and C. G. Couto. Small Animal Internal Medicine, 4th ed. 2009.
  2. ^ Keeling, Linda K.; Gonyou, Harold W. (2001). Social behaviour in farm animals. CABI Publishing. p. 69. ISBN 0-85199-717-1. 
  3. ^ Loon, Rael; Loon, Hélène (2005). Birds: the inside story. Struik Publishers. p. 183. ISBN 1-77007-151-2. 
  4. ^ "Rumination Syndrome". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved Jan 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Bulimia Nervosa". Office on Women’s Health (OWH). Retrieved Jan 26, 2011. 
  6. ^ Chari, C. T. K. (1973) '"Regurgitation, mediumship and yoga." Journal of the Society for Physical Research 47, 757, 156
  7. ^ "Stevie Starr, Professional Regurgitator". The Museum of Hoaxes. Retrieved Jan 26, 2011. 
  8. ^ Price, Haydn (2007). Chris Needs:Like It Is. Y Lolfa Cyf. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-84771-015-4. 
  9. ^ Drummond, Hugh; Edda Gonzalez and Jose Luis Osorno (1986). "Parent-Offspring Cooperation in the Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii): Social Roles in Infanticidal Brood Reduction". Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 19 (5): 365–372. doi:10.1007/bf00295710. 

See also[edit]