Compared to snakes and other carnivores that eat prey whole, how strong is human stomach acid? If a human were able to swallow a rodent whole would she be able to digest it bones and all?
Interesting question. I dont have an answer in pH values or whatever, but I once vomited in a sink I never managed to really get clean using household products and it shone like a mirror all of a sudden.
Now as for your example question
Im pretty sure the answer is no. If it were true, we would surely be much more inclined to and built for swallowing rodents from time to time…
On a ph level it’s about as strong as battery acid. If you placed it in your palm it would probably eat through your hand. Since our stomach is lined with protective epithelial cells, it doesn’t eat through our stomach.
Here’s an interesting piece on the digestive process of crocodiles. It mentions rapid stomach acid production as a factor.
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Have you ever done the chicken bone in vinegar demonstration? Your stomach acid could, if you could collect it and put it into a jar and stick a chicken bone in it, do the same thing. In a real human body, it’s tough to swallow bones, because they tend to have jagged edges that poke holes in your innards. Small bones, like those in sardines, you can swallow no problem.
Gut transit time is another issue in vivo - stuff doesn’t sit in your stomach for 3 days like that chicken bone in vinegar. So, in reality, your body doesn’t digest bones, but your stomach acid certainly can.
My guess would be digestive enzymes more than the effects of any acid.
My guess is that your stomach acid could completely digest a rat or similar animal but it would never stay in the stomach long enough for that to happen. Humans have a high metabolism compared to say a snake so our food moves through pretty quickly only taking about a day or two to make a full trip.
First of all, pH and corrosiveness aren’t the same thing. A strong acid is one that completely ionizes or dissociates in solution. Weaker acids only partially ionize. Generally speaking, substances that are more acidic are also more corrosive, but hydrofluoric acid for example is only a weak acid, but is highly corrosive. So you can’t just go by pH.
A snake’s stomach acid isn’t more corrosive than a human’s. In fact, a snake’s stomach acid is pretty similar to human stomach acid in terms of both pH and corrosivity. The human stomach isn’t designed to produce a lot of acid for very long periods of time, though. A human stomach empties in 4 to 6 hours. A snake’s stomach, on the other hand, can digest its meal for close to a week, and it will remain highly acidic that entire time. This is why a snake can digest a rodent, and a human can’t. Our stomach gives up when a snake’s stomach is just getting started.
The king of stomachs has to be the vulture, though. A vulture’s stomach acid is so corrosive that it can kill anthrax in putrid flesh. Our stomachs aren’t even close to that.
Conversely, lemon juice is a very strong acid (pH 2.2) but not very corrosive at all.
People swallow chicken bones quite often by accident and they rarely cause a problem, the stomach acid softens them up enough that they pass through the bowels ok and come out the other end. It can occasionally cause a perforated bowel but thats quite rare.
My guess is that you swallowed a whole mouse you’d be just fine (as long as the mouse had no diseases). I’d be more worried about the indigestible fur than the the bones. I would not however want to be anywhere near the person when whats left came out the other end.
Seeing how humans and our ancestors have had fire making abilities for at least a half a million years (something like that) you’d assume our digestive system would be a lot weaker than other animals. Fire breaks down large organic compounds into easier to digest smaller ones, and it also kills off pathogens.
No, our digestive system is shorter than other animals.
Look at herbivores like cows or horses, for example – much of their body is taken up by a much longer gut proportionally than humans.
But since we cook our food, it is much easier to digest, so we have evolved to have a shorter digestive system, and thus more energy to devote to a proportionally larger brain. Which has so far proved to have been quite an evolutionary advantage.
Once again:you can’t just go by pH and declare that something is a strong acid.
Lemon juice is primarily citric acid, which is a *weak *acid.
I was in a study for acid reflux. One of the tests was to see if your stomach acid was acidic enough to cause esophageal damage. They attached a pH meter/transmitter to my esophagus, just above my stomach. Apparently my stomach pH is right at 1.0 (consistent over several separate trials). I use that as an excuse to eat anything I want. No bugs swim in that.
Except our digestive system wasn’t like a cow or a horse 2 million years ago before we had fire. It was comparable to a chimp. And chimps have short digestive systems just like us.
Carnivore mammals have very short digestive systems since meat is easy to digest, omnivores like humans have intermediate lengths, and herbivores like cows and horses have extremely long digestive systems. We’ve been omnivores for 10s of millions of years, much longer than we’ve been human.