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Posts Tagged "snakes"

Anthropology in Practice

Editor’s Selections: Snakes, Dangerous Honey, And Friendly Rats

Part of my online life includes editorial duties at ResearchBlogging.org, where I serve as the Social Sciences Editor. Each Thursday, I pick notable posts on research in anthropology, philosophy, social science, and research to share on the ResearchBlogging.org News site. To help highlight this writing, I also share my selections here on AiP Great reads this week! [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Found: A Snake Species No One Believed Existed

Clarion nightsnake

Eleven hundred kilometers off the coast of Mexico, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, sits a tiny hunk of rock and sand known as Clarion Island. No one lives on Clarion. Other than a small contingent of sailors from the Mexican Navy, who come and go every two weeks, the only people who visit [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Viper Collectors Nearly Wiped Out This Rare Turkish Snake; Saint Louis Zoo Helps to Save It

ocellate viper

Nine young, highly venomous snakes are safely slithering in the viper room of the Saint Louis Zoo today, thanks to a breeding program that may help to save the species from extinction after overzealous collectors nearly eradicated it from its natural range. The critically endangered ocellate mountain viper (Vipera wagneri) has a long and problem-plagued [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Deadly Snakes, Ugly Critters, Leonardo DiCaprio and Other Links from the Brink

Bothriechis guifarroi

A deadly but critically endangered snake, one of the world’s rarest birds and a heavily guarded flower are among the endangered species in the news this week. A New Snake with a Sad Story: A gorgeous but extremely dangerous new snake species has been discovered in Honduras. The new palm pit viper has been named [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Killer Fungus Targeting Endangered Rattlesnakes

massasauga rattlesnake

In 2008 biologists studying the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) made a gruesome discovery: three sick snakes suffering from disfiguring lesions on their heads. All three died within the next three weeks. A fourth snake, found in 2010, also died from the mysterious growths and ulcers. Necropsies uncovered the source of the lesions: a [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Have You Seen This “Extinct” Snake? Snapping a Photo of It Alive Could Be Worth $500

South Florida rainbow snake

The Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson and the Center for Snake Conservation in Louisville, Colo., have put up a $500 reward for evidence that the South Florida rainbow snake (Farancia erytrogramma seminola) is not extinct, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared in October [pdf]. The organizations are hoping that professional and amateur [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Endangered Species Status Sought for ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ Rattlesnakes

I have had two encounters with rattlesnakes over the years. Each time, the snake shook its tail, made some noise, and let me know it didn’t much care for me being so close. I eased my way around, gave the snake some respect, and kept on moving. No problem. Neither of those encounters were with [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Rediscoveries, Recovery and Other Good News for Endangered Species

Every few months, I try to point out that the news about endangered species isn’t all doom and gloom. Oh sure, most of the stories I cover are pretty depressing, but then I come across the success stories that make it all worthwhile. Recovered First up, we have this week’s announcement that the Lake Erie [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Ssssuccessss: World’s rarest snake is back from the brink

Fifteen years ago, the future looked bleak for the Antiguan racer (Alsophis antiguae), the world’s rarest snake. In 1995 just 50 of the creatures survived on the isolated 8.4-hectare Great Bird Island off of Antigua in the Caribbean. Introduced mongooses had wiped out the species on Antigua itself; invasive rats almost did the same trick [...]

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Guest Blog

Me and the copperheads–or why we still don’t know if snakes secrete melatonin at night

It seems this is a week of venom here at the Guest Blog! First it was Rachel Nuwer on Monday who looked at the U.S. death statistics at the hands (Okay, fangs and stingers) of venomous animals. Then yesterday David Manly explained how snakes bite and how their venom evolved (and still evolves). So, I [...]

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Guest Blog

Biting the hand that feeds: The evolution of snake venom

"Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?"—Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark Let’s face it. Snakes are not most people’s favorite animals. They slink and slither without making much noise, have a forked tongue with unblinking eyes, and fangs that bite or coils that wrap. Some snakes are so dangerous that people [...]

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Observations

Super-Toxic Snake Venom Could Yield New Painkillers

black mamba snake venom pain killer

A bite from the black mamba snake (Dendroaspis polylepis) can kill an adult human within 20 minutes. But mixed in with that toxic venom is a new natural class of compound that could be used to help develop new painkillers. Named “mambalgins,” these peptides block acute and inflammatory pain in mice as well as morphine [...]

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Observations

Ebola-Like Disease Has Snakes Tied Up in Knots

python ebola virus

In 2009, some of the snakes at the California Academy of Sciences’ Steinhart Aquarium were acting sort of s-s-s-s-strange. Scientists suspected a sickness whose cause was mysterious. Now researchers think they’ve found an unlikely origin, as they watch the disease play out in strange and terrible fashion. “Some of the symptoms are pretty bizarre,” said [...]

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Observations

First Prehistoric Snake Slithered Out on Land–Not at Sea

snake lizard fossil jaw evolve land

Sorry, sea serpents. Snakes, it seems, slithered off their lizard legs on land. A new analysis of a primitive snake fossil suggests that these animals emerged from a line of burrowing reptiles. Snakes are in the same reptilian order that includes lizards, but just how and where they split off to live their legless lives [...]

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Observations

New Fossil Severs Snakes from Legless Lizard Line

ancestor limbless lizard not snake fossil

Snakes aren’t just lizards without any legs. But a curious group of long, legless lizards look suspiciously like snakes themselves. Also known as "worm lizards" (aka amphisbaenians), these small serpentine reptiles have evolved a limb-free body plan and strong heads that are handy for their burrowing lifestyle. So are they the snake’s closest lizard relatives? [...]

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Observations

Flying ophidians! Physicists uncover how snakes soar between trees [Video]

flying snake glide physics

Some snakes don’t need to be on a plane to take flight. The "flying" snake (or paradise tree snake, Chrysopelea paradisi) launches its sleek frame into the ether from precipitously tall trees in Asia and sails downward. This seemingly strange behavior—particularly for an animal that has no limbs or skin flaps itself—has been long known, [...]

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Observations

Spitting cobras use quick reaction and anticipation to attempt to blind targets with venom

spitting cobra defend venom anticipate

Even cobras need to defend themselves sometimes. These venomous snakes keep adversaries at bay by spitting a neurotoxin or other substance into their perceived enemy’s eyes, causing severe pain and sometimes blindness. And they are incredibly accurate in hitting their target—even though it is often moving and more than a meter away. But how can [...]

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Running Ponies

This snake’s venom makes you bleed from every orifice until you die

male-boomslang-featured

Hey so snakes that inject venom into the bloodstream are pretty bad, how about a snake that injects venom into your bloodstream AND makes you bleed out from every orifice? Sound good? The boomslang (Dispholidus typus) is a venomous tree snake native to Sub-Saharan Africa. Blunt-faced and pretty, with relatively enormous eyes and a bright, [...]

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Running Ponies

Imantodes chocoensis: New species of skinny, bug-eyed snake

Imantodes chocoensis

A new, weirdly proportioned species of snake called Imantodes chocoensis has been discovered in the tropical region of Chocó, which lies on the Pacific coast of northern Ecuador, Colombia and Panama. It belongs to the Imantodes genera of snakes, of which there are only six other known species. Otherwise known as blunt-headed vine snakes, Imantodes [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Neat news from the TetZoo-sphere

"Tapirs sometimes walk on the bottom of lakes and rivers". Oh really? Yes, really.

Here are some amazing things that me and my friends have been talking about lately. They all concern fascinating discoveries or insights into unusual aspects of tetrapod behaviour. We’ll start with my current obsession: the short bit of underwater footage (16 seconds long) that shows an adult Lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris ‘walking’ (at great speed) [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Taxonomic vandalism and the Raymond Hoser problem

Australia sure has some amazing elapids. Given that Hoser claims to have the interests of the animals at heart, it's bizarre that he defaces their taxonomy with horrible names that never honour the animals themselves. This is Oxyuranus microlepidotus, the Inland taipan. Photo by AllenMcC, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

For some years now, a prolific amateur herpetologist has published an absolutely extraordinary number of new taxonomic names* for snakes, lizards and other reptiles. In addition to naming well over 100 supposedly new snake and lizard genera, this individual has also produced taxonomic revisions of the world’s cobras, burrowing asps, vipers, rattlesnakes, water snakes, blindsnakes, [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Welcome to the Squamozoic!

When the Mesozoic ended, it was inevitable that the lizards, snakes and amphisbaenians – the squamates – would inherit the Earth. For the last 65 million years, the world has been so dominated by squamates that we term this stage in the planet’s history the Squamozoic. What is life like, today, on Squamozoic Earth? Purely [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Karl Shuker’s The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals

We’re all excited by, and interested in, ‘new’ species; that is, those that have been discovered and named within recent years, with “recent years” variously being considered synonymous with “since 2000”, “since the 1970s”, or “since 1899/1900”. In the modern age, species discovered within the 20th century are generally considered ‘surprising’ and ‘recent’, and we [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

The New Forest Reptile Centre

Back in May this year I visited the New Forest Reptile Centre (Holidays Hill, near Lyndhurst, New Forest National Park, Hampshire, UK). I’ve been meaning to visit for a long time – I think I last went there some time during the late 1990s – and the very hot and sunny weather meant that it [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Love for Mastigodryas, Tomodon, Sordellina and all their buddies: you know it’s right

I’m feeling on a roll with the obscure colubrid snakes, so here are some more (see the previous article if you feel like you need an introduction). Again, the photos are used with kind permission of Bangor University’s Wolfgang Wüster unless stated otherwise. Mastigodryas bifossatus (photographed here at Sao Paulo in Brazil) is a slender-bodied, [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

The more you know about colubrid snakes, the better a person you are

I really like finding out about, and writing about, obscure tetrapods. And that’s not a difficult thing to do, since there are some pretty big, pretty diverse tetrapod groups out there that contain huge numbers of poorly known, little-mentioned species. I’ve come back to obscure snakes on a few occasions, and here’s another article where [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

The Crowing crested cobra

I’ve recently been reading Stephen Spawls’s Sun, Sand & Snakes, a 1979 volume that charts Spawls’s childhood interest in snakes and other reptiles and recounts his numerous japes and scrapes with local, east African herpetofauna. Today, Spawls is a well-known herpetologist, co-author of the excellent The Dangerous Snakes of Africa (Spawls & Branch 1995) and [...]

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