1

Biologists have found that all tadpoles of that species begin life as omnivores, feeding mainly on organic debris in their soon-to-be-dry pool in the desert, but that occasionally one tadpole eats another or eats a freshwater shrimp.

I don't understand this sentence because of the bold part. Can I just consider "but that occasionally" as "and" so the whole sentence means, tadpoles mainly feed on organic debris and they also feed on each other or freshwater shrimp?

2

but that has the meaning of except (1).

In your paragraph, it basically means

tadpoles feed mainly on organic derbis in their soon-to-be-dry pool in the desert, except occasionally one tadpole eats another or eats a freshwater shrimp.

3
  • The dictionary that you linked gives me this sentence: "She would have screamed, but that her cry would have called her masters". – user198952 Mar 4 '18 at 11:22
  • In this case, does "but that" has a meaning as "if it does not happen"? If I just directly replace "but that" with "except", the whole sentence sounds awkward. So my question is, does "but that" has two meanings-1.except 2.if not ? – user198952 Mar 4 '18 at 11:25
  • @user198952 it surely doesn't mean "if not" in your sentence, but you could say so – paper1111 Mar 4 '18 at 23:24

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