Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Summarizing Natural Science

It's exciting to discover knowledge about our beautiful world, but sometimes reading the latest in science can be very taxing on the mind. So I've summed two publications about invasive reptile species for your reading pleasure.

Invasive species have a knack for dominating native species like a Hulk on steroids, and the first species I'd like to mention even reminds me of the Hulk. The Cane Toad (Rhinella marina) is 'smashing and bashing' its way right across Australia. Cane Toads eat many native animals but almost nothing eats the Cane Toad because it's toxic to eat. The Cane Toad produces a toxin, called bufadienolides, as a defense against predators.

 This research project http://classic.rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/06/11/rspb.2012.0821.full
shows how we can dish the colossal Cane Toad a taste of it's own toxin. . . Literally.

Cane Toad tadpoles will eat other Cane Toad eggs. How crazy is that. When mother Cane Toads hop in the water and lays her eggs, the other baby Cane Toad tadpoles smell her bufadienolide toxins and swim over to gobble up all those eggs. So the researchers tried trapping Cane Toad tadpoles with bufadienolide as lure, and it worked! It may be possible to trap all Cane Toad tadpoles from a body of water in a few days' time.

The next invasive reptile is Boiga irregularis aka the Brown Tree Snake. The researchers http://www.jstor.org/stable/3892747?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
wanted to determine if the snake used venom or constriction to kill its prey.

To find the answer, the researchers looked at two groups of Brown Tree Snakes while they were feeding. One group had their venom glands seal, and the other group was left untouched. Since both groups killed their prey in the same amount of time, the researchers concluded that the venom does not play a role in killing the prey.

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