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

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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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.

Photo courtesy W. Wüster.

ResearchBlogging.org

Mastigodryas bifossatus (photographed here at Sao Paulo in Brazil) is a slender-bodied, oviparous American colubrid. All 12 or so Mastigodryas species are large-eyed, diurnal predators of amphibians, lizards, snakes, birds and small mammals. They also eat eggs on occasion. They’re sometimes called racers, a name used elsewhere for species in the colubrid genera Coluber, Drymobius, Alsophis and Lampropeltis, but M. boddaerti is known as the machete cuesse across parts of its range. A new species in the group, M. moratoi Montingelli & Zaher, 2011, was named from Brazil just last year.

Mastigodryas has generally been regarded as closely related to Coluber and Masticophis. Pyron et al. (2011) recovered it as part of the tropical American colubrine clade that includes cribos (Drymarchon), coachwhips (Masticophis), tiger snakes (Spilotes), green snakes (Opheodrys) and the vine snakes (Oxybelis) we looked at in the previous article. Within this clade, Mastigodryas seems especially closely related to the Drymoluber species, also often known as racers.

Photo courtesy W. Wüster.

This is Tropidodryas striaticeps, a semi-arboreal, nocturnal colubrid from south-eastern Brazil that preys on diverse vertebrates. It’s extremely unusual among colubrids, and among snakes, in having a prehensile tail. There are two Tropidodryas species: the other one is T. serra. Adult individuals of both species are greenish grey or brownish, with dark blotches forming what seems to be a cryptic pattern. Juveniles, however, differ in having a highly conspicuous whitish or yellowish tail where flaring scales make the tail-tip appear broader than it is in adults.

Western ratsnake (Pantherophis obsoletus); photo by furryscaly, from wikipedia.

Could – some herpetologists suggested – this tail-tip be used in caudal luring, a form of behaviour (elsewhere seen in some pythons, wood snakes, vipers and Australian elapids) used by some snakes to trick frogs, lizards and mammals into coming within striking range? Sazima & Puorto (1993) observed what seemed to be caudal luring in T. striaticeps, making it the first colubrid known to engage in this behaviour. It was later reported in the dipsadine Alsophis (Leal & Thomas 1994) and in the Western ratsnake Pantherophis obsoletus, a colubrine (Tiebout 1997) [adjacent Western ratsnake image by furryscaly, from wikipedia]. The last case is the weirdest since Pantherophis doesn’t have a distinctly pigmented tail, perhaps showing that the field is open for any snake to engage in caudal luring so long as it uses its tail tip in the right way. Incidentally, some colubrids employ lingual luring: that is, they use the tongue to attract prey. This behaviour is documented for American watersnakes (Nerodia) and gartersnakes (Thamnophis) where the prey are fish, but it’s also rumoured for the African twigsnake Thelotornis kirtlandii where the prey are assumed to be birds (Mattison 1998).

Like several of the other ‘colubrids’ we’ve looked at before, Tropidodryas is a dipsadine, and in fact molecular data indicates that it’s part of the same dipsadine clade as Xenoxybelis and Philodryas (two taxa both mentioned in the previous article) (Pyron et al. 2011).

Photo courtesy W. Wüster.

Oxyrhopus contains 11 species of superficially coralsnake-like colubrids (coralsnakes [Micrurus] are elapids, not ‘colubrids’). This one is O. guibei, photographed in Brazil. Oxyrhopus species are back-fanged and diurnal; they’re generalist predators, eating amphibians, lizards, snakes and rodents. The most northerly species occur in Mexico and the most southerly ones are in Peru. Again, Oxyrhopus is a dipsadine. Within this large group, it seems to belong to the clade that also includes Arrhyton, Uromacer and Xenodon, being especially close to Phimophis, Drepanoides, Pseudoboa and Boiruna (Pyron et al. 2011). This latter, Pseudoboa-and-kin clade corresponds more or less with the ‘Tribe’ Pseudoboini, recognised on the basis of morphological (hemipenis-based) characters (Jenner & Dowling 1985, Zaher 1999).

Photo courtesy W. Wüster.

Tomodon dorsatus is a small, viviparous colubrid and yet another dipsadine. It’s a back-fanged predator (notable for particularly long rear fangs) that’s mostly terrestrial but may also climb on occasion. There’s some disagreement as to what it eats. Some sources regard it as a predator of lizards and rodents while Greene (1997) suggested that those long back fangs might assist in a diet of slugs. Greene also noted that a gaping Tomodon, bearing its enlarged fangs, might benefit from a superficial resemblance to pit vipers. T. dorsatus is one of two Tomodon species (the other one is T. ocellatus), both of which are unique to south-eastern South America.

Some authors (e.g., Bailey 1967) have classified Tomodon and a list of other dipsadines within the ‘Tribe’ Tachymenini. Other members are Tachymenis (of course), Thamnodynastes, Ptychophis, Gomesophis, Pseudotomodon and Calamodontophis. This is a diverse lot: some (Pseudotomodon) are superficially viper-like, others burrow in damp mud and eat earthworms (Gomesophis), while others (Thamnodynastes) are slender, long-tailed snakes that climb and swim in wetland habitats. However, the only character used to unite ‘tachymenins’ is viviparity. As is well known (or should be well known), viviparity has evolved on innumerable separate occasions within Squamata, so this isn’t really compelling. Zaher (1999) couldn’t find any characters supporting tachymenin monophyly (though their hemipenes do look similar) and left the alleged members of this group as incertae sedis within Dipsadinae. Molecular phylogenetic studies have generally failed to incorporate them.

Photo courtesy W. Wüster.

Finally, here’s the peculiar and little-known Dotted brown snake Sordellina punctata from south-eastern Brazil, the only species in its genus. It’s an oviparous dipsadine, named in 1923, and often said to frequent wet places. Pereira et al. (2007) concluded that Sordellina is mostly a snake of well vegetated, boggy waterside habitats. There are suggestions that it eats frogs and their tadpoles, but I don’t know if these are anything more than speculations. Procter (1923) actually found a specimen of the typhlonectid caecilian Chthonerpeton indistinctum in the stomach of the holotype.

Sordellina’s affinities are somewhat uninvestigated. One suggestion is that it’s close to the terrestrial, sometimes semi-fossorial graceful brown snakes (Rhadinaea) (Jenner 1981) and part of the dipsadine ‘Tribe’ Diaphorolepidini. Zaher (1999) said that these ideas weren’t supported by hemipenial anatomy, but beyond this it wasn’t possible to pin down the affinities of this taxon within Dipsadinae.

Participants of the CITES Asian Snake Trade Workshop, Guangzhou, China, April 11th-14th, 2011

As always, there are so many other snakes that still need some love at Tet Zoo. We can all help snakes by being more aware of habitat loss and degradation – many of the species here are tropical forest animals that are threatened by logging, mining and other forms of destruction. The mostly Asian trade in snake meat, and the global trade in snake skin and other products, desperately needs more regulation: it’s presently completely unsustainable and putting many snake populations in danger. Ivan Kwan of The Lazy Lizard’s Tales reminds me that CITES held a special Asian Snake Trade Workshop in China during April 2011: you can view and/or download numerous free documents from that meeting here.

And I was horribly inconsistent in this article as goes the use of colubrid or ‘colubrid’, sorry. You’ll know why. Right?

For previous Tet Zoo articles on colubrid snakes (using ‘colubrid’ in the maximally inclusive sense), see…

And for articles on other kinds of snakes, see…

Refs – -

Bailey, J. R. 1967. The synthetic approach to colubrid classification. Herpetologica 23, 155-161.

Greene, H. W. 1997. Snakes: the Evolution and Mystery in Nature. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Jenner, J. V. 1981. A Zoogeographic Study and the Taxonomy of the Xenodontine Colubrid Snakes. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, New York Univ., New York.

- . & Dowling, H. G. 1985. Taxonomy of American xenodontine snakes: the tribe Pseudoboini. Herpetologica 41, 161-172.

Leal, M. & Thomas, R. 1994. Notes on the feeding behavior and caudal luring by juvenile Alsophis portoricensis (Serpentes: Colubridae). Journal of Herpetology 28, 126-128.

Mattison, C. 1998. The Encyclopedia of Snakes. Blandford, London.

Pereira, D. N., Stender-Oliveira, F., Rodrigues, M. G. & Bérnils, R. S. 2007. Distribution and habitat use of Sordellina punctata (Serpentes, Colubridae), with a new record from State of São Paulo, Brazil. Herpetological Bulletin 100, 18-22.

Procter, J. B. 1923. On a new genus and species of Colubrinae snake from SE Brazil. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 9, 227–230.

Pyron, R., Burbrink, F., Colli, G., de Oca, A., Vitt, L., Kuczynski, C., & Wiens, J. (2011). The phylogeny of advanced snakes (Colubroidea), with discovery of a new subfamily and comparison of support methods for likelihood trees Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 58 (2), 329-342 DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2010.11.006

Sazima, I. & Puorto, G. 1993. Feeding technique of juvenile Tropidodryas striaticeps: probable caudal luring in a colubrid snake. Copeia 1993, 222-226.

Tiebout, H. M. 1997. Caudal luring by a temperate colubrid snake, Elaphe obsoleta, and its implications for the evolution of the rattle among rattlesnakes. Journal of Herpetology 31, 290-292.

Zaher, H. 1999. Hemipenial morphology of the South American xenodontine snakes, with a proposal for a monophyletic Xenodontinae and a reappraisal of colubroid hemipenes.Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 240, 1-168.

Darren Naish About the Author: Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at darrennaish.wordpress.com. He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at tetzoo.com! Follow on Twitter @TetZoo.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Therizinosaurus 8:17 pm 02/7/2012

    So that’s the genus which forced the theropod tooth Diplotomodon to be renamed…

    Link to this
  2. 2. llewelly 8:21 pm 02/7/2012

    Interesting point about the rarity of prehensile tails among snakes.
    I wonder if anybody has compared the occurrence of prehensile tails
    among arboreal snakes to the occurrence of prehensile tails among
    arboreal mammals.

    Link to this
  3. 3. Dartian 2:42 am 02/8/2012

    Darren:
    It’s extremely unusual among colubrids, and among snakes, in having a prehensile tail.

    Hmm, that information is slightly surprising. So, which other snakes have prehensile tails then?

    it’s also rumoured for the African twigsnake Thelotornis kirtlandii where the prey are assumed to be birds

    Birds? Thelotornis snakes seem to be lizard specialists, don’t they? Luiselli et al. (1998), for example, found only one bird among the prey items of Thelotornis kirtlandii (the rest were geckos). And Shine et al.(1996), who studied the diet of the closely related Thelotornis capensis, similarly found only one bird among 56 prey items (the majority of which were chameleons and other lizards).

    References:
    Luiselli, L., Akani, G.C. & Capizzi, D. 1998. Food resource partitioning of a community of snakes in a swamp rainforest of south-eastern Nigeria. Journal of Zoology, London 246, 125-133.

    Shine, R., Harlow, P.S., Branch, W.R. & Webb, J.K. 1996. Life on the lowest branch: sexual dimorphism, diet, and reproductive biology of an African twig snake, Thelotornis capensis (Serpentes, Colubridae). Copeia 1996, 290-299.

    Link to this
  4. 4. John Harshman 8:52 pm 02/8/2012

    What counts as “prehensile”? Does there have to be some special rugosity on the tail surface? Certainly all the snakes I regularly deal with will wrap their tails around a perch (usually my arm) for support when descending. That isn’t prehensile?

    Link to this
  5. 5. naishd 4:45 am 02/9/2012

    Thanks for comments. Prehensile tails: I had it in my head that true prehensility of the tail (that is, where the tail has independent movement and can be used in grasping – remember that the snake tail is [generally] really short) is very rare in snakes. Indeed, you can find statements like “Tropidodryas striaticeps …. is highly unusual in that its tail is prehensile” (Greene 1997, p. 205). However, other sources say that the tails of most arboreal snakes are prehensile: “The tails of most arboreal boids, viperids, and many colubrids are prehensile and assist in climbing and securing to branches (Lillywhite and Henderson 2001)” (from Sheeny’s 2006 MSc thesis). So far as I can tell, the distribution of prehensile tails in snakes is phylogenetically widespread but ‘spotty’. Remember that the bulk of snake diversity is made up of terrestrial or semi-terrestrial ‘colubrids’, and elapid and scolecophidian diversity is also pretty high. None (or virtually none) of these forms have prehensile tails.

    Ref – -

    Lillywhite, H. B. & R. W. Henderson. 2001. Behavioral and functional ecology of arboreal snakes. In R. A. Seigel & J. T. Collins (eds) Snakes: Ecology and Behavior. McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York, pp. 1-48.

    Link to this
  6. 6. naishd 4:57 am 02/9/2012

    Re: Thelotornis (comment 3). Yes, twigsnakes mostly eat lizards, but Mattison’s recounting of the rumoured use of the tongue as a lure specifically refers to the supposed use of the tongue in bird-luring. I think it’s something he got as an anecdote from local people. Even though twigsnakes are lizard specialists, that wouldn’t, of course, stop them from trying to catch birds on occasion, right?

    Darren

    Link to this
  7. 7. Dartian 5:36 am 02/9/2012

    Darren:
    true prehensility of the tail

    Ah, so the crux of the matter here is that it’s specifically the tail (as opposed to the rest of the body) that should be the, hm, prehensilising part?

    Even though twigsnakes are lizard specialists, that wouldn’t, of course, stop them from trying to catch birds on occasion, right?

    Of course not. But, assuming that those dietary studies that I cited are representative (and I’m well aware that generalising from a tiny handful of field studies has its risks), Thelotornis snakes don’t seem to be all that good at catching birds.

    Link to this
  8. 8. John Harshman 11:43 am 02/9/2012

    So, what counts as “tail”. I’ve been assuming everything aft of the vent. Wrong?

    My observations are limited to corn snakes, gopher snakes, and two species of king snake. But they all seem to grasp with their tails, if those are indeed tails.

    Link to this
  9. 9. naishd 4:48 pm 02/9/2012

    The tail is indeed everything posterior to the vent. Of course, all snakes can coil round things with their body. In some (or most), the tail is ‘passively’ involved in this coiling, merely following the coil formed by the body (again, remember that snake tails – in general – are pretty short). But in others the tail is truly prehensile: that is, independently capable of coiling and grasping. John – corn snakes are said to have prehensile tails, but I didn’t think that this was true of gophersnakes or kingsnakes. Does anyone know otherwise?

    Darren

    Link to this
  10. 10. Dartian 1:43 am 02/10/2012

    Darren:
    snake tails – in general – are pretty short

    Would you happen to know which snakes have the longest tails (in absolute terms and/or relative to body length)?

    Link to this
  11. 11. naishd 4:24 am 02/10/2012

    Longest tail: it’s one of the climbing colubrine or dipsadine colubrids – Sheeny (2006) says that the dipsadine Uromacer frenatus has a tail 48% of body length, and this has to be one of the longest-tailed species. Indeed, it’s an extreme value: climbing snakes have relative tail lengths about twice those of non-climbers. I don’t what the average relative tail length is across snakes (does anyone else?), but it seems to be between 10 and 30% – it’s between 6 and 15% across most pythons, boas, vipers and elapids. Some snakes (some scolecophidians) have tails just 1% of total length. Incidentally, in some long-tailed colubrine colubrids, the tail can be autotomised.

    Ref – -

    Sheeny, C. M. 2006. On the structure and function of tails in snakes: relative length and arboreality. University of Florida, MSc Thesis.

    Darren

    Link to this
  12. 12. Dartian 8:28 am 02/10/2012

    Darren:
    the dipsadine Uromacer frenatus has a tail 48% of body length, and this has to be one of the longest-tailed species

    So no snake has a tail that is even close to as long as its body – let alone longer than the body, like some lizards (e.g., this Takydromus sexlineatus)? Interesting.

    in some long-tailed colubrine colubrids, the tail can be autotomised

    Srsly? Cool, I didn’t know that!

    Link to this
  13. 13. naishd 9:26 am 02/10/2012

    I ALWAYS screw up with things involving numbers, ALWAYS. 48% of body length is incorrect – I should have said 48% of TOTAL length, sorry. Even so, I think it’s clear that there are no snakes where the tail is, say, two or three times longer than the body (as it is in Takydromus).

    Incidentally, this is only comment # 13, but already this article is in the ‘most commented posts’ section. It’s a shame that such a low number of comments is still such a big deal round here. By the way, is anyone else seeing the generic names in the title at an absurdly large font size, or is it just me?

    Darren

    Link to this
  14. 14. Heteromeles 10:47 am 02/10/2012

    @Darren: You mean that wasn’t intentional?

    Link to this
  15. 15. naishd 11:00 am 02/10/2012

    Yes, totally not intentional. Entered text at 12 point and added italics tags. I figure it looks kind of amusing, so have opted not to complain about it.

    Darren

    Link to this
  16. 16. llewelly 12:19 pm 02/10/2012

    For me the generic names are same size as all the other text, with various versions of firefox on MacOS and Linux.

    Link to this
  17. 17. LeeB 1 4:15 pm 02/10/2012

    For me the Generic names are in large font size at first, but when I click to read the whole article they then revert to more normal size.
    Peculiar.

    LeeB.

    Link to this
  18. 18. John Harshman 4:18 pm 02/10/2012

    What LeeB 1 said. Firefox in MacOS.

    Do prehensile tails correlate with a flattened ventral surface?

    Link to this
  19. 19. John Scanlon FCD 1:28 am 02/11/2012

    By ‘flattened ventral surface’ I presume you mean the condition, common in arboreal ‘colubrids’, where the lateral part of the ventrals is set off by a keel or strong angulation and extends some distance up the lateral surface. There are also snakes (at least individuals) with conspicuously flat bellies wider than the ventrals, which does not seem likely to function for climbing.

    There is probably a correlation with prehensile tails because both are used in climbing, but may well vary completely independently apart from that.

    Use of the tail in snake locomotion varies from approximately none (passive trailing), through varying contribution to lateral undulation, to pushing with the tip (e.g. terminal spine in typhlopids and tree cobras), pushing with a loop (seen in elapids and pythons), counterbalance and frictional brake (major use of long tails in tree snakes) and prehension (grasping by coiling). Then there’s luring and flushing prey, defensive displays, light-sensing, and a handy place for keeping sex organs.

    Australian elapids do all those things, anyway. Maybe ‘colubrids’ have some other tail-talents but I wouldn’t know. I must be a bad person, by that criterion.

    Link to this
  20. 20. Owlmirror 9:48 pm 02/12/2012

    I’m seeing the odd sizing of the generic names as well — large on the main TetZoo page, normal on the actual post page.

    This appears to be because a different stylesheet sequence is being applied on the two pages. On the main page, the <em> tag gets a style that says “italic 36px/40px Brunel-for-Titles-Italic,georgia,times,serif”, from core.css

    I think if you change the “<em>” tags to “<i>” tags, the font size should remain the same (normal) size on both pages.

    Link to this
  21. 21. Owlmirror 11:19 pm 02/12/2012

    And I think I just figured something out…

    blockquote

    I think that the blockquote tag is not stripped out, as it appears, but rather, because there’s a reset of all tag styles (including blockquote) in reset.css, the indentation that should appear, doesn’t.

    So fixing the blockquote is a simple matter of fixing a stylesheet. OK, obviously someone needs to take the step of actually doing that.

    Darren, I don’t suppose you can put a custom stylesheet in place…

    Testing some more tags:

    del strike em abbr acronym cite code q i strong b a ins

    x
    y
    .
    .

    Link to this
  22. 22. Owlmirror 11:32 pm 02/12/2012

    If you do a “view source”, you can see that the blockquote tag is there.
    If you disable all styles, or use the element inspector in Firefox, you can selectively disable the line in reset.css (margin: 0pt), the blockquote indentation appears.

    And the crazy huge spacing between paragraphs is caused by this line in style.css:

    div#comments2 p { padding-bottom:20px; padding-top:20px;}

    Ugh.

    test1
    test2

    test3
    test4

    Link to this
  23. 23. naishd 3:25 am 02/13/2012

    I can’t do anything about changing the stylesheet, but let me test the italics tags…

    Darren

    Link to this
  24. 24. naishd 3:27 am 02/13/2012

    Excellent – that’s fixed it, thanks! Now to go do the same with the mutual sexual selection title…

    Darren

    Link to this
  25. 25. David Marjanović 11:52 am 02/13/2012

    Ooh! So that’s it! Please raise a stink and complain to the SciAm overlords about the stylesheet!

    Interesting that abbr and acronym work but aren’t graphically marked at all.

    So that’s the genus which forced the theropod tooth Diplotomodon to be renamed…

    What do snakes need cutting teeth for anyway?

    I wonder if anybody has compared the occurrence of prehensile tails
    among arboreal snakes to the occurrence of prehensile tails among
    arboreal mammals.

    Prehensile tails are rare in arboreal mammals.

    Incidentally, in some long-tailed colubrine colubrids, the tail can be autotomised.

    Awesome!

    So no snake has a tail that is even close to as long as its body – let alone longer than the body, like some lizards (e.g., this Takydromus sexlineatus)? Interesting.

    That’s normal. Limb-reduced vertebrates usually have very short necks and tails. Most caecilians even have no tail at all. (The “tail” fin of Typhlonectes is not on the tail; there is no tail.)

    …which makes the aïstopods with their long tails (twice trunk length or so) all the weirder! They’re the great big exception. I think we’re looking at phylogenetic inertia there: their sister-group seem to be the urocordylid “nectrideans” which have similarly long tails.

    …That Takydromus photo is incredible. Isn’t that tail a serious hindrance? Are we looking at runaway sexual selection or what?

    Link to this
  26. 26. Dartian 4:00 am 02/14/2012

    David:
    Isn’t that tail a serious hindrance?

    Apparently not. To the contrary, these lacertids have a reputation for being very quick and agile; if Wikipedia is to be trusted, Takydromus sexlineatus may even sometimes manage to catch flying insects by jumping into the air (in captivity at least).

    Incidentally, a related species, the Japanese grass lizard Takydromus tachydromoides, is known to actively use its tail to distract predators such as snakes (Mori, 1990).

    Reference:
    Mori, A. 1990. Tail vibration of the Japanese grass lizard Takydromus tachydromoides as a tactic against a snake predator. Journal of Ethology 8, 81-88.

    Link to this
  27. 27. Dartian 5:51 am 02/14/2012

    Forgot to comment on this…

    David:
    Prehensile tails are rare in arboreal mammals.

    But they’re even rarer in non-arboreal mammals. (In fact, off the top of my head, the only non-climbing mammal with a prehensile tail that I can think of is the eastern bettong Bettongia gaimardi, which uses its upwards-curving tail to transport nest-building materials.)

    And how rare is “rare”, anyway? Among arboreal/climbing mammals, prehensile tails have evolved in:
    -New World opossums;
    -at least three lineages of diprotodontians (Tarsipes, pygmy possums, and phalangers, respectively);
    -anteaters;
    -pangolins;
    -two wholly unrelated species of carnivores (the kinkajou and the binturong, respectively);
    -once or twice in platyrrhine monkeys (in atelines and capuchin monkeys, respectively);
    -a few times in rodents (New World porcupines, dendromurines, and Micromys, at least; I may be forgetting some others).
    In other words, prehensile tails have evolved independently at least a dozen times in extant mammal lineages. That’s not too badly done, is it – even compared to snakes (or even squamates as a whole)?

    Link to this
  28. 28. Dartian 6:13 am 02/14/2012

    …and of course I did manage to forget at least one extant prehensile-tailed taxon: the phylogenetically isolated South American marsupial monito del monte Dromiciops australis, which has a tail that’s at least semi-prehensile.

    Link to this
  29. 29. David Marjanović 7:50 am 02/14/2012

    In other words, prehensile tails have evolved independently at least a dozen times in extant mammal lineages. That’s not too badly done, is it –

    Sure; my point is that most arboreal mammals lack prehensile tails.

    (Unless I’m underestimating opossum diversity. Doesn’t everyone?)

    Link to this
  30. 30. WizeHowl 6:59 am 02/16/2012

    When I saw the heading in the Newsletter I had absolutely no idea what the article was about, but I was certainly intrigued once I saw the photos. As a snake lover and a victim of two of the deadliest snakes in the world, the first when I was only about 9, I was bitten by a Red-bellied Black, (Pseudechis porphyriacus) in my backyard here in Queensland, Australia. The second only 11 years by a Eastern Brown (Pseudonaja textiles).

    Both put me in hospital but I was fortunate and I didn’t require anti-venom. However the Eastern Brown has caused major long term Neuro-muscular damage.

    So when I come across articles like this I do try to take them in and learn as much as I can from them. This was a great piece and the photos are fabulous. Well done Darren.

    But I would really like to know more about the little bugger that bit me, if you have any information, and especially about the toxins and their long term affects.

    Link to this
  31. 31. John Scanlon FCD 5:40 am 02/19/2012

    Hey WizeHowl,

    have you checked out Bryan Grieg Fry’s venomdoc.com?

    I was hospitalised overnight after a Red-belly bite when I was 13, but there’s never been an adult fatality from the species (last time I checked) so it shouldn’t really be considered high on any list of deadlies.

    Eastern Browns, though… I’m glad I didn’t run into any of those till I was a bit more careful.

    Link to this
  32. 32. WizeHowl 3:06 am 02/20/2012

    John Scanlon FCD thanks for that will do. Sounds like you are unlucky like me or you are lucky enough to work with them, which I should have done.

    Link to this

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