When animals cry, tear-drinking organisms hop up to the "bar" to quench their thirst, new research finds.
Tears are sort of like sports drinks, in that they contain various vitamins and minerals in a liquid solution. (They also contain mucus, antibiotics and oils, which is probably why entrepreneurs aren't bottling human tears for sale.)
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But, for tear-drinking species like butterflies and bees, tears are refreshing goodness. Aquatic ecologist Carlos de la Rosa and his team watched and photographed bees and butterflies drinking crocodile tears. A paper on the discovery is published in the latest issue of Ecology and the Environment.
The croc, a spectacled caiman, seemed not to mind. It was relaxing on the banks of the Río Puerto Viejo in northeastern Costa Rica when the drink fest happened.
"It was one of those natural history moments that you long to see up close," de la Rosa, director of the La Selva Biological Station for the Organization for Tropical Field Studies in San Pedro, Costa Rica, said in a press release. "But then the question becomes, what's going on in here? Why are these insects tapping into this resource?"