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2010: Pseudogenization of the umami taste receptor gene Tas1r1 in the giant panda coincided with its dietary switch to bamboo.
Widmayer et al., "Expression of tas1 taste receptors in mammalian spermatozoa: functional role of Tas1r1 in regulating basal [Ca.sup.2+] and camp concentrations in spermatozoa," PLoS ONE, vol.
Meyerhof, "Genetic labeling of Tas1r1 and Tas2r131 taste receptor cells in mice," Chemical Senses, vol.
Jianzhi Zhang at the University of Michigan and his colleagues said that it seems that pandas have an inactive version of the Tas1r1 gene that allows us to taste umami, reports New Scientist.
They discovered that Tas1r1 stopped working about 4.2 million years ago.