Gammon weighs in on the 'filthiest animal' for Gizmodo

Dave Gammon, associate professor of biology, offered his take on a contender for the title in Gizmodo's "Giz Asks" weekly article. 

The popular design, technology and science website Gizmodo recently turned to an Elon expert to answer the question — “What’s the filthiest animal?”

Illustration courtesy of Gizmodo
Weighing in for the site’s weekly Giz Asks feature was Dave Gammon, associate professor of biology at Elon. Gammon has conducted extensive research on biodiversity and animal behavior, and cast his vote for a scavenger — the vulture. 

Vultures feast upon carcasses, Gammon told the site, and have adapted to the practice of devouring dead flesh with extremely corrosive stomach acid and the practice of urinating on their legs to kill bacteria accumulated while tromping around on dead animals. 

From Gammon’s response: 

“We think of birds as feathered creatures, but vultures don’t have any feathers on their head and neck. And if you don’t have feathers on your head, it allows you to stick your head right into the carcass and be less likely to get all the little bits of blood and gunk stuck to you and then be carried around all day. So maybe they care a little bit about cleanliness.”

Find the entire response from Gammon and other biology and entomology here