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A very particular phenomenon that has been documented in the Amazon jungle. It is a source of nutrients used by bees and butterflies: the tears of turtles.
According to Phil Torres, a member of the Tambopata Research Center (based in Peru) and who spearheaded this discovery, turtle tears contain high levels of sodium, a vital mineral that is not abundant in the Amazon region.
Turtles are supplied with large amounts of sodium through their largely meat-based diet. For herbivorous animals, getting sodium is a bit more complex.
It is possible that turtle tears contain more nutrients than they contribute to the diet of insects. It has not yet been determined whether the turtles derive any benefit from such interaction with the bees and butterflies, but it really is a very poetic scene, one of the most aesthetic manifestations of nature.
This is not just any turtle, this particular species cannot put its head into its neck (not all turtles can), so it has to endure the thirsty insects flitting its tears around their heads. The relationship that occurs is an example of commensalism, where two species interact and one benefits; the other is unharmed, but does not benefit in any way. '
Torres describes in his research that butterflies will chase almost anything salty. He has even seen them soak in the sweaty handles of boat rudders, hikers' backpacks, hanging field clothing, or the necks of people who have sweated. It is quite common for scientists to find butterflies near mixtures of fermented fish and urine, an unpleasant combination but rich in amino acids and salts.
In some regions such as Ecuador, butterflies also land on alligators in search of this mineral. A rather peculiar but very touching event.
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