Have you ever eaten a slater bug? A person doesn’t usually think about eating an insect but it comes a moment in life when it becomes the topic of the discussion whether eating it or not. Field experts and society, in general, had long believed that we as humans didn’t have the needed enzyme in order to digest insects’ exoskeleton. As a matter of fact, according to United Nations, 2 billion people consume insects during their meal around the world.

source: flickr | Fried grasshoppers.[/caption]

“Evolution of Acidic Mammalian Chitinase Genes (CHIA) Is Related to Body Mass and Insectivory in Primates” is a study, published in December 2017 in the online Molecular Biology and Evolution, which was conducted on primates. It is worth mentioning that, according to Mareike Janiak, leading author, previous research has shown that bat and mice can indeed digest exoskeleton.

To continue, this current research was concentrated on analyzing the genomes of more than 30 primates. Researchers hoped to find copies of CHIA gene. This is the enzyme which perishes chitin which wraps the exterior of an insect. Nowadays primates reported having just 1 copy of that gene. As a matter of fact, early primates have been reported to have 3 copies of CHIA gene. Furthermore, nowadays there is a primate which has 5 of CHIA gene copies. Tarsier primate eats the most insects and can only be found in Southeast Asia. M. Janiak explained that some primates evolved by increasing their body mass as well as taking more advantage of the day. This led to the result that primates started to eat more fruits and leaves. Thus, by the time, primates weren’t much interested about insects leading to a transformation in their digesting enzyme.

As a conclusion, not all scientists agree that the digestion of insects is possible for humans. Janiak then adds that cooking the insects makes it easy for our stomach to digest without having the need to have the enzyme. Maybe, and probably, you have somewhere somehow eaten an insect and maybe after eating one or two, it will not look yucky anymore. What are your thoughts?