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Which Animal Has the Most Taste Buds?

A person will have an average of 10,000 taste buds during the prime of his or her life, but many animals have far more taste buds. The average 6-inch (15.24 cm) catfish has about 25,000 taste buds. There are more than 2,200 species of catfish, accounting for roughly 8 percent of the entire fish population. The only continent that is not home to some species of catfish is Antarctica.

More facts about taste buds:

  • Humans and different types of animals might perceive the same tastes very differently. Cats do not experience sweet tastes, and different types of pigs might perceive a wide range of foods as tasting bitter.

  • A healthy person who is 20 to 40 years old will have about 10,000 taste buds, but that number will decrease with age. A 65-year-old person might have fewer than 5,000 fully functional taste buds.

  • Each taste bud is equipped with 50 to 150 receptor cells that function for a period of one to two weeks. The receptor cells are replaced rapidly, making it possible for the sense of taste to remain constant. Reproduction of these cells increases when additional cells are killed by spicy food or when the tongue gets burned by food or a beverage that is too hot.

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