At 05:33 PM 2/7/04 -0600, you wrote:
>No, because if the gluten was exposed to the gut, the seed would not be
>viable. Gluten is not water soluble unless less milled and would not much
>contact the gut unless milled and would not germinate if
>milled. Proto-wheat seeds would be even less accessible than wheat, that's
>why we created wheat.
But it's not an all-or-nothing proposition. Is it not possible that there
is variability in the seed head as regards digestibility? Also, not all
of the seeds may be milled while eating. In either situation if the
gluten's function is a digestive irritant, then the surviving seeds are
expelled more quickly. The seeds producing the irritant are like the
soldiers who throw themselves on the barbed wire to allow their comrades in
arms safe passage across their backs.
>Improperly introducing a cow to grain feed can kill it. "Walking off" a
>lodged cow is a bit more *substantial* than that bud light fart commercial.
>You only feed a *lot* of milled grain to an animal you are going to butcher
>or work to death and then butcher.
Undoubtedly true, but beside the point of my question. Grazers would not
have fed exclusively or even preferentially on protowheat seed heads.
>My theory on gluten is it simply evolved as an inherent nutrient storage
>for use by the sprout. Certain lectins may have been integrated into the
>glutens to injure those animals that might develop capabilities of eating
>and milling the seeds with their teeth or beaks.
Could it then not have continued to evolve into another function? As an
analogy, consider feathers and wings and the flight of birds. Obviously,
featherbearing birds with flight capable wings didn't just appear. Those
structures had to evolve from earlier structures serving a different
purpose. Conceivably, the substances in the seeds evolved as a defense
against consumption, but in the evolutionary arms race became relegated to
the category of minor irritant. Sort of like capsicum peppers.
>>Wheat, however, has its origins in the Middle East, and the primary grass
>>eaters in that region would be not horses but ruminants such as sheep,
>>goats and the like. As I am unfamiliar with the output of such critters,
>>here is my question--Is their digestive process so efficient as to preclude
>>the passing of undigested seeds?
>Since there is no nutrition in the ripe seed head except for the
>seeds, animals would eat the seed head only if they can digest the
>seeds. Plants that want animals to spread their seeds invest energy in
>producing fruit flesh to keep the animal alive as it passes on the
But how much more efficient is it not to put all that energy into
producing, moist, fleshy, sugary fruit flesh if it can be diverted into
more seed production? In other words, if a certain percentage of the seed
is sacrificed to heighten the chance of survival and dispersal of the rest,
isn't this a viable alternative strategy? Hence my question about ruminant
digestion. If you turn a goat out to graze, are there viable grass seeds
in its droppings?