The European pine marten (Martes martes) is a mustelid – part of the weasel family. There is also a North American relative (Martes americana). They mainly nocturnal and pretty hard to spot. Here’s a rather nice picture of a pine marten, from DJS photography (note its right ear, presumably nibbled in a fight):

On the last episode of Autumnwatch on the BBC last night, Chris Packham claimed that pine martens are very partial to a jam sandwich, and this does indeed seem to be the case (Mr Google has 272 hits with those two phrases – 273 now this page has been posted).

Although primarily carnivorous, they will also eat berries, honey and other sweet stuff. Hence the jam sandwiches. Cats, on the other hand, do not eat jam sandwiches or honey. And cats cannot taste sugar, for the simple reason that their genome does not possess the relevant T1R2 receptor which, together with the T1R3 receptor (which they do have), enables mammals to detect sugar.

So I predict that when the pine marten genome is eventually sequenced, we will find, nestled in its chromosomes, the T1R2 receptor…

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1 Comment

Filed under Genetics, Mammals


  1. Russell

    A gene for jam? Sergeant Corky will be well pleased. I think I have one of them lads meself. Would marmalade be a different gene, now? Sweet Jaysus, you scientifical types have the hard life.

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