HerpDigest.org: The Only Free Weekly Electronic Newsletter That Reports on the Latest News on Herpetological Conservation, Husbandry and Science
Volume # 12 Issue # 12 3/9/12
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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Table of Contents
1. Leatherback Turtle Migration Study Identifies Pacific Danger Zones for Endangered Species
2. Snakes around world evolve along similar path of poison resistance say biologists
3. Snakes on an inclined plane control scales to climb
4. Spiny, Venomous New Sea Snake Discovered—"Something Special"
5. Snake Tales- An anthropologist and a herpetologist join forces to reveal the complex shared evolutionary and ecological history of pythons and primates.
6. District finds success in snake and frog comeback
7)Snakes alive?: With drought, rattlesnake behavior changes likely, potential declines hard to measure-Weather not diminishing population, but changing character of population (So says people from Sweetwater Rattlensake Roundup and Tony Baez, reptile supervisor at the Abilene Zoo.
If you ever wondered what goes on a rattlesnake roundup, here is the schedule for the Sweetwater roundup. At least the events they advertise or know of. The horror of these events in in the details of what happens at the many booths and just the sheer number they collect. (see above article)
9) Salamanders and fish can regenerate lost structures - why can't we?
TURTLE TV is here, It‚s a „freaking hilarious‰ award winning 30 minute DVD compilation of excerpts from shows and events from a TV station run by turtles for turtles and their friends. - such as you? ALL SHOWS STARONLY TURTLES. Not a human to be seen
TURTLE MOVIES- - Star Wars - American Beauty - Blazing Saddles (Yep, that scene) King Kong (Yes the turtle climbs up the side of a skyscraper)
TURTLE SPORTS-- the Turtle Hockey League, the Turtle Basketball League Turtle Drag Racing, even the Turtle Indy 500 (complete with a sensational crash).
TURTLE TV SHOWS- Turtle CSI, Turtle Cops and a turtle cooking show, which the main dish is a cricket cooked in sherry, or should be. and more.
Like official turtle greetings from the station for Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza.
Guaranteed turtle TV fun and madness for 30 full minutes. The perfect gift for the holidays, birthdays, yourself. And only for a donation of $15.00 each, which includes S&H anywhere in the U.S. Additional copies are $15.00 each S&H also included. Overseas contact us email@example.com
Go to end of text of newsletter on and how to order.
Books Still Available
Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico volume 1 and 2 by Carl & Evelyn Ernst are still available as one set at a $20% Discount - (The publisher is extending the discount week by week. SO if you want it at a discount order it now.
Invasive Pythons in the United States- Ecology of an Introduced Predator by Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson, Foreword by Whit Gibbons,
Diamondback Terrapins: Gems of the Turtle World (How to Care for them in captivity)
Diamonds in the March , (Definitve Book on Diamondback Terrapins,) by Barbara Brennessel,
go to end of text of newsletter for additional information on any of these
books and how to order.
1) Leatherback Turtle Migration Study Identifies Pacific Danger Zones for Endangered Species
ScienceDaily (Mar. 1, 2012) — The majestic leatherback turtle is the largest sea turtle in the world, growing to more than 6 feet in length. It is also one of the most threatened. A major new study of migration patterns has identified high-use areas -- potential danger zones--in the Pacific Ocean for this critically endangered species. This new understanding could help inform decisions about fishing practices to help reduce further deaths of this fragile species.
"The study shows that leatherbacks can be found throughout the Pacific Ocean and identifies high-use areas that are of particular importance to their survival," said lead author Dr. Helen Bailey of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. "This information on their movements is essential for identifying hot spots and assessing where limiting fishing at particular times of year may be effective for protecting leatherbacks."
Leatherbacks are the widest-ranging marine turtle species and are known to migrate across entire ocean basins. Female leatherbacks lay their eggs on tropical nesting beaches, but then migrate to foraging areas to feed on jellyfish. These long-distance migrations are likely to increase the risk that these animals may be caught in fishing gear, undermining conservation efforts to protect turtles on their nesting beaches. Interaction with fisheries is believed to be a major cause of death, which is of particular concern in the eastern Pacific Ocean, where the number of leatherback turtles has dropped by more than 90% since 1980.
"Leatherback turtles are long-lived animals that take a long time to reach maturity, so when they are killed in fishing gear it has a huge impact on the population," said study coordinator Dr. James Spotila of Drexel University. "Their numbers are declining so rapidly it is critical that measures are taken quickly to ensure these animals don't go extinct."
Leatherback turtles can travel enormous distances between their nesting and feeding sites. In the Pacific Ocean there are two populations of leatherback turtles that nest in the eastern and western Pacific. The study used state-of-the art satellite tracking, the largest satellite telemetry data set ever assembled for leatherbacks, to track 135 turtles. Leatherbacks in the eastern Pacific were tagged at the nesting sites in Costa Rica and Mexico. The western Pacific population was tagged at two nesting sites in Indonesia and at foraging grounds off the coast of California. The tracks were combined with oceanographic satellite data provided by NOAA, NASA, and a number of international partner space agencies to provide important insights into their long distance migrations.
The study found that the western Pacific population nesting in Indonesia traveled to many different feeding sites in the South China Sea, Indonesian seas, southeastern Australia, and the U.S. West Coast, mainly in highly productive coastal areas. This wide dispersal allows for a greater likelihood to find food. It also means that the turtles are more vulnerable to being caught unintentionally by fishing gear in coastal and offshore areas.
The eastern Pacific population had a very different migration pattern, traveling from their nesting sites in Mexico and Costa Rica to the southeast Pacific. These turtles migrated south and tended to feed in offshore upwelling areas where their food, almost exclusively jellyfish, may be concentrated. The more limited feeding areas of the east Pacific turtles makes them more vulnerable to any changes that occur to the distribution or abundance of jellyfish in this area. Deaths caused by human activities, such as being caught in fishing gear, also pose a greater risk of causing this population to go extinct because they have a smaller range than the western Pacific leatherbacks.
Experts from around the world joined together to work on this landmark study of leatherback turtle migration. The collaboration included Helen Bailey of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; James Spotila of Drexel University; George Shillinger and Barbara Block from Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University; Stephen Morreale of Cornell University; Frank Paladino of Indiana-Perdue University; Scott Eckert of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network; Rotney Piedra of Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas; Creusa Hitipeuw of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Indonesia; Ricardo Tapilatu of The State University of Papau; and Peter Dutton, Scott Benson, Steven Bograd, Tomoharu Eguchi and David Foley of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The study, "Identification of distinct movement patterns in Pacific leatherback turtle populations influenced by ocean conditions," appears in the March issue of Ecological Applications.
The study was supported by funding the from Lenfest Ocean Program, the Leatherback Trust, the Tagging of Pacific Predators program of the Census of Marine Life, and the NOAA-Fisheries Service.
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
2) Snakes around world evolve along similar path of poison resistance say biologists
March 5, 2012
(PhysOrg.com) -- Utah State University biologists have long studied varied species of North American garter snakes that have evolved an amazing resistance to a deadly neurotoxin found in innocuous-looking newts, a favorite food of the snakes.
The researchers have now discovered that snakes of different types in Central and South America and Asia have evolved the same resistance in a strikingly similar way.
The findings, by USU alum Chris Feldman, PhD’08, now a faculty member at the University of Nevada, Reno; USU biology professor Edmund Brodie, Jr.; Brodie’s son, Edmund Brodie III of the University of Virginia, and former USU faculty member Mike Pfrender of the University of Notre Dame, appear in the March 5, 2012 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We were able to break down the genetic basis of the adaptations in each of these snakes,” says Feldman, lead author and a recipient of USU’s Robins Award as 2006 Graduate Research Assistant of the Year. “We found that each snake – ranging from the Neotropical ground snake of Central and South America to the tiger keelback of East Asia – has evolved in almost the exact same way as the garter snakes at the genetic level.”
Each of the snakes feasts on amphibians that secrete tetrodotoxin or TTX, a poison far deadlier than cyanide. It’s the same neurotoxin found in puffer fish which, prepared by rigorously trained chefs, provides sushi lovers with an exhilarating, albeit risky, dining experience. Tetrodotoxin is also an alleged ingredient of so-called zombie powder, an anesthetic-like concoction that causes humans to initially appear dead and regain a temporary semi-conscious state.
“Tetrodotoxin affects proteins that control nerve impulses and the ability of muscles to fire,” Feldman says. “At full strength, the poison instantly paralyzes nervous and muscle tissue in animals – including humans – resulting in rapid death.”
The snakes in the team’s study, however, have mutations that thwart the toxin at the protein level, preventing TTX from blocking the sodium channels in muscle.
“This tells us a couple of things: either these mutations are the perfect solution to avoid the poison or may be the only way to bypass the problem,” Feldman says.
What could limit the range of solutions, Brodie, Jr. says, is the ‘cost’ of the mutation.
“We know that the mutation affects the snakes’ speed,” he says. “Snakes with the mutation are slower. A different mutation to block the toxin could have even greater detrimental effects and that could explain why the current set of mutations is so similar across all species.”
In continued study, the team is investigating Caddisfly larvae, creatures very different from snakes, that appear to have developed a similar resistance to tetrodotoxin. In a naturally protective foil, female newts lay eggs laced with – you guessed it – TTX. Most pond predators that ingest the amphibian caviar do so at their peril. Caddisfly larvae are an exception.
“We’re studying these larvae to see if they’ve adapted with mutations similar to those of the snakes,” Brodie, Jr. says.
Provided by Utah State University
3) Snakes on an inclined plane control scales to climb
• March 2012 by Lisa Grossman
Whether a serpent tempted Eve to eat apples from the Tree of Knowledge is up for debate, but now we understand better how it could have climbed the tree in the first place. It seems snakes can control each of their scales individually to grip rough surfaces and fight gravity.
Biologists have long known that snakes' scales are good for gripping. Their scallop-shaped geometry and the way they lie over each other like Venetian blinds help stop them sliding backwards.
Now Hamid Marvi of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and colleagues have found that snakes can also control each scale. "[Biologists] knew about the passive mechanism, not the active one," he says.
"I'm not aware of previous published research showing active control of individual scales," agrees zoologist Harry Greene of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Marvi and fellow researchers sedated an albino corn snake and let it slip, unconscious, down a ramp. They measured the angle at which they had to tilt the ramp to get the snake to slide, which revealed the coefficient of friction between the snake and the ramp.
They repeated the experiment with an alert snake and found that the coefficient of friction was twice as large as when it was asleep. That suggested it could do something to improve its grip.
"When the snake is unconscious, there is no control, no feedback, no sensory system," Marvi said at a press briefing at this week's American Physical Society conference in Boston. "But when the snake is conscious it can sense, 'I'm sliding, so I should do something.' There's an active mechanism involved."
Indeed, when the team took close-up videos of the snakes' soft underbellies, they found the snakes can control the angle of each scale to most effectively stick to a surface. "By controlling the initial angle of attack of the scale, snakes can increase their friction," Marvi says.
Armed with this knowledge, Marvi and colleagues built a climbing robot called Scalybot, which could be used for search and rescue work, he suggests.
4) Spiny, Venomous New Sea Snake Discovered—"Something Special"
National Geographic News
Published March 2, 2012
A new species of venomous sea snake mysteriously covered head to tail in spiny scales has been discovered in treacherous seas off northern Australia, a new study says.
Though some other sea snakes have spiky scales on their bellies, "no other [known] sea snake has this curious feature," study leader Kanishka Ukuwela, an ecologist at the University of Adelaide, said by email.
Normally snakes have smooth scales, but each of the newly named Hydrophis donaldi's scales has a spiny projection, he said.
Scientists cruising shallow seagrass beds in the Gulf of Carpentaria (map) recently captured nine of the rough-scaled reptiles.
"The minute the first one landed on the deck, I knew we had something special," study co-author Bryan Fry of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, said by email. "It was quite unlike any of the sea snakes I have seen."
Each of the specimens was found on the rocky seafloor, a habitat that could explain the new species' uniquely strong scales, Fry noted.
Overall, though, "we don't know why this interesting feature evolved in this species, or what they are used for," study leader Ukuwela said.
Venomous Snake Has Deadly Neighbors
The new Hydrophis—literally "water serpent"—likely eluded notice for two reasons. The species is apparently rare, and it lives in coastal habitats largely avoided by fishers, Ukuwela said. Many Australian sea snake species live in the open ocean and are often accidentally caught in prawn trawls.
Little is known about the yellowish brown reptile, other than that it gives birth to live young and, like nearly all live-bearing sea snakes, is "venomous and potentially dangerous to humans," according to the study, published February 21 in the journal Zootaxa.
Furthermore, venom is just one obstacle to unraveling the new species' mysteries, the University of Queensland's Fry noted.
"Field observations are impossible, because the water is very murky and filled with lots of very large bull sharks and saltwater crocodiles, in addition to [highly poisonous] box jellyfish," he said.
"If we tried to dive there, our life expectancy would be measured in minutes. The only question is which animal would kill us.
"My money is on the bull sharks."
5) Snake Tales- An anthropologist and a herpetologist join forces to reveal the complex shared evolutionary and ecological history of pythons and primates.
By Ruth Williams | March 1, 2012, The Scientist magazine
As 6-month-old baby Nini slept quietly in the same hut as her older sister and brother, she was unaware that she would become an only child that night. By the time her father, Teteng, entered the hut around sunset, one of the children was wrapped in the coils of a giant python and was being swallowed headfirst. Teteng slashed and killed the snake with his hunting bolo knife, but it was too late. Nini’s siblings were dead. Only baby Nini survived.
It is the stuff of nightmares and horror movies, but for the Agta tribal people on the Philippine island of Luzon, python attacks are harsh realities. Anthropologist Tom Headland of the Summer Institute of Linguistics International in Dallas, Texas, documented the story of Nini and other chilling snake tales while collecting ethnographic and census data on the Agta in the 1970s. But it wasn’t until snake expert Harry Greene of Cornell University got wind of Headland’s Agta snake stories that their full historical and evolutionary implications were realized.
Although constrictors are known to prey on a variety of primate species, whether or not such snakes would have posed a significant threat to early humans has been a hotly contested issue, says Rick Shine, a snake expert at the University of Sydney in Australia. “It is one of these classic examples of a topic that people are interested in, and they speculate about and have quite diverged opinions on, but nobody had the information,” Shine says.
Headland’s data revealed that pythons regularly attacked Agta males as they hunted and foraged in the jungle, suggesting our forbearers likely faced the same risk. To have such insight into prehistoric predation is quite possibly unique, says Shine. Because of widespread deforestation and modernizing of tribes, he says, “it is probably too late in most of the world to get such information. . . .I was surprised that the data existed.”
Greene was pretty surprised, too. In 2000, he was shown a photo, taken by Headland in 1970, of two Agta men holding a slain python measuring nearly 23 feet in length. “My jaw just fell open,” he says.
Greene wanted the photo for a natural history book he was writing and managed to track down Headland. “I wrote to him and said, ‘Can I please use your picture in a book I’m writing?’” says Greene, “He said, ‘Oh yeah, great, and by the way, do you think you would be interested in these data I’ve got from back in the ’70s on the incidence of python predation and attempted predation on the Agta?’”
“Once again my jaw just dropped,” says Greene. “Actually having data on wild animal predation of humans, let alone humans living a relatively primitive lifestyle, is just amazing.” Greene promptly flew down to Dallas and spent a full day poring over Headland’s old notes, which had been carefully filed away for 30 years.
Headland and his wife, Janet, had conducted a census of the Agta living in the Casiguran region on the east-central side of Luzon. Among the questions they asked each tribe member was whether their parents were still alive and if not, how they had died. One day, they received a startling answer. “Somebody said, ‘He was killed by a python,’” recalls Headland.
The pair confirmed that a total of six Agta tribespeople had been killed by pythons between 1934 and 1973. However, a far greater number—15 of 58 Agta men questioned (26 percent)—had survived attacks. “At the time I thought, ‘Well, that is really, really interesting,’” says Headland, “but I buried it away in my files and never did anything with it.”
But Greene realized the significance of the data. “When you consider that [Tom] had asked each of these [Agta] men, ‘How did you escape being predated?’ and they always said, ‘I killed the python with my knife or my shotgun,’ that has to mean that before the availability of metal weaponry, their likelihood of getting killed was higher,” says Greene. “Imagine what a profound thing pythons would be in your life if you lived in that forest and had to go out every day foraging.”
Headland’s Agta data contravened a long-held notion that large snakes only eat humans under exceptional circumstances, says Greene. To put it in perspective, he adds, “What if one in four of us had suffered a shark attack?”
Thanks to their weapons, the Agta more often kill pythons than are killed by them. “Occasionally when we ate with them, [python] would be the main dish,” Headland recalls. For our early hominid ancestors, however, the outcomes of python encounters might have been less favorable. Indeed, there is plenty of evidence that our extant primate cousins are often python prey.
Besides being predator and prey of giant snakes, hominids would have also competed with snakes for food, say Headland and Greene in their recent article presenting the Agta data (PNAS, 108:E1470-74, Epub 2011). The Agta mainly hunt deer and wild pigs, occasionally monkeys, and all of these are common prey for pythons.
Given that a large python can eat a deer, says Greene, an adult Agta male—small by Western standards—would be a good meal, but certainly not enormous. “In fact, I think that python in [the photo] could have eaten both those guys if she had gotten the drop on them,” he says. “Just look at the size of her head and the size of their heads. She wouldn’t have had any trouble at all swallowing them.”
6) District finds success in snake and frog comeback
La Honda preserve rehabilitated for amphibians, rangers
Thursday, March 1, 2012 11:23 am By Mark Noack Posted on March 1, 2012, Half Moon Bay Review
Red-legged frogs, San Francisco garter snakes and even a couple park rangers can all claim a new home at the La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve as part of plans to rehabilitate the old ranchland.
Buoyed by the success of a pilot project last year, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is ramping up plans to convert the old cattle ponds into habitat for the endangered frogs and snakes. Meanwhile, the open-space district is also advancing plans to restore an old farmhouse as a home for rangers.
The La Honda preserve has about 25 ponds that are still being used as a water source for the hundreds of cows that graze the grassy hillsides. Those ponds could also provide an attractive spot for endangered red-legged frogs to lay their eggs.
Starting back in 2010, the district’s planners fixed a failing pond that leaked, causing it to annually lose the water needed to sustain frog eggs.
One year later, the district biologists counted about a dozen red-legged frog hatchlings. Those early results galvanized the district to quickly restore other ponds.
“I’m just blown away that it was a success in the first year,” said MROSD biologist Julie Andersen. “Before, it was like a red-tagged house. Now we’re putting in the comforts to make it a home.”
On Feb. 22, 15 volunteers revisited the restored pond to tear out invasive thistles and shrubs and replace them with frog-friendly grasses. The garden work took place in a fenced-off area the size of a tennis court that is being set aside specifically for the frogs. The area was surrounded by barbed wire to prevent cattle from chomping on the native grasses and also included four cover boards meant to someday encourage a comeback of the San Francisco garter snake.
The district has applied for permits to restore two other ponds, which could happen this summer, Andersen said.
The open-space district first acquired the 5,760-acre La Honda preserve in 2004, and the property remains largely inaccessible to the public. MROSD is working to finish a master plan spelling out property management, and the current goal is to begin work on trails, parking and other necessities by 2014.
The district moved one step closer in December by approving a remodel project for an old Folger ranch house on the south side of the preserve. The house would become the future home for a tenant ranger who could keep off-hours watch over the land. Similar to the California State Parks, MROSD rangers are offered a subsidized home to encourage them to live on-site.
But having not been occupied for years, the home first needs a host of improvements, including a new roof, floor and utilities. The district has allocated $173,000 to repair the future ranger house.
7)Snakes alive?: With drought, rattlesnake behavior changes likely, potential declines hard to measure-Weather not diminishing population, but changing character of population (So says people from Sweetwater Rattlensake Roundup and Tony Baez, reptile supervisor at the Abilene Zoo..
• By Brian Bethel
• Posted March 3, 2012 at 11 p.m.
For Sweetwater Jaycee Dennis Cumbie, there's little doubt that drought conditions have affected all creatures great, small and, most important for the group's yearly Rattlesnake Roundup, snaky.
"Anytime you have a drought as severe as what we've had, it's going to affect any and all wildlife," Cumbie said.
Generally, less water means a lack of coverage the snakes and their prey both like.
And the creatures that snakes like to eat tend to disperse in harsh conditions, searching for water.
It all adds up to wandering, hungry snakes.
"Last year when I went out looking for snakes, there were quite a number (that were) emaciated, or skinny," noted Tony Baez, reptile supervisor at the Abilene Zoo.
But experts said it's often difficult to know how much the population might have decreased because of the drought, pointing more toward likely behavior changes among the reptiles than speculations about census.
"We think it will deter some of the snake population," Cumbie said of the parched conditions. "But our numbers have kind of decreased as far as what we've had coming into the roundup. We don't think that's because of the number of snakes out there, though, we think that just means people haven't been hunting as much."
Chairman of the venom-milking pen at the Sweetwater event, Cumbie said snake hunting comes and goes as a fad. In the past some hunting clubs were particularly sizable, but many have dwindled either because of old age or a lack of interest.
"I guess people are just busy, that's one part of it," he said.
Last year's 1,500 to 1,600 pounds of snakes was "kind of low," Cumbie said.
Most of the snakes at the roundup come from about a 100-mile radius, Cumbie said.
Cumbie, who said he has been hunting snakes since 1977, said judging from what he and others have seen in 50 years or so of roundups, the Jaycees' yearly extravaganza isn't going to damage the area snake population, no matter what the drought has done.
"This country's so rough, there's no way you'd ever hunt them all out," another reason judging area populations is difficult, he said.
The area has been in a drought since December 2010, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Nick Reimer.
"Back in October most of West Texas was in an exceptional drought," though the area has improved "greatly" with some rainfall since, he said.
But with record high temperatures last year, Reimer expected at least an "indirect" affect on snakes.
The zoo's Baez said that he was almost certain the drought had affected area snakes in a variety of ways, though mostly in terms of behavior.
A dry year can mean snakes won't grow as much, Baez said, and therefore not shed as much.
Snakes under drought conditions also may not have as many offspring as in wetter years.
But it's somewhat hard to starve a snake, Baez said.
Considered "ambush predators," they can live weeks, even months, on little sustenance.
Snakes will wander away from familiar areas to find food and water if conditions become prohibitive.
And that can mean coming into greater proximity with people.
"If an animal is starving, even if it's a secretive one, because it's trying to survive it's more likely to be in proximity to a person," Baez said.
Houses, gardens, ponds, lakes and pools often serve as an oasis not just for snakes, but other creatures oppressed by drought.
"You'll naturally have animals come in because there is greener grass, and therefore the predators will follow," he said, along with more of the types of ground cover that snakes and their prey love.
While there's no way to guarantee a snake-free home, making one's property less "snake-friendly" — such as removing clutter and piles of rocks, logs or trash — can go a long way, Baez said.
"That's where prey hide, and so that's where predators hide," he said.
Snakes in this area tend to den communally and start waking up from hibernation in March, staying near their lairs until the weather is warmer.
In the early year, snakes tend to be diurnal, meaning they come out during the day time. But excessive temperatures, like those that broke records last year, can become too hot for them to handle.
So they may switch to a nocturnal schedule, being seen on the move at dusk and even around midnight if it's a particularly hot year.
The reptiles generally breed early in the year, but don't actually have their babies until late August or September, Baez said. Snakes generally return to their familiar dens in the fall for hibernation.
Nolan County Extension Agent Zachary Wilcox said he doubted one would see "much of a decrease in numbers" of snakes because of recent dry conditions, though he said he wouldn't be surprised if there hadn't been some decline based on his own experience with rattlesnake run-ins.
"I can tell you in late summer or fall, I'll normally kill six or eight or 10 of them just out and about on dirt roads or wherever," he said. "And I can tell you I haven't seen as many of them."
If you ever wondered what goes on a rattlesnake roundup, here is the schedule for the Sweetwater roundup. At least the events they advertise or know of. The horror of these events in in the details of what happens at the many booths and just the sheer number they collect. (see above article)
Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup
Cost: Friday to Sunday, $8 adults; $5 children 10 and under
Sweetwater Jaycees are not responsible for pay-to-park lots.
THURSDAY (events free)
4:30 p.m. — Rattlesnake Review Parade Starts at Third and Ash streets.
7 p.m. — Miss Snake Charmer Scholarship Pageant, City Auditorium, corner of Fourth and Locust streets.
Gates open to the public: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Events include: Guided hunt registration, weigh-in of snakes, bus tours, snake handling shows, fried rattlesnake meat, registration for brisket and chili cook-off, Sweetwater Gun, Knife and Coin Show, Rattlesnake Dance.
Gates open to the public: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Events include: Guided hunt registration, 19th annual brisket and chili cook-off, Girl Scout salsa challenge, weigh-in of snakes, bus tours, fried rattlesnake meat, snake handling shows, Sweetwater Gun, Knife and Coin Show, Rattlesnake Dance.
Gates open to the public: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Events include: Guided hunt registration, weigh-in of snakes, bus tours, fried rattlesnake meat, snake handling shows, rattlesnake eating contest, prize awards, Sweetwater Gun, Knife and Coin Show.
9) Salamanders and fish can regenerate lost structures - why can't we?
(Editor- The topic is sort of the Holy Grail among scientists. Why? Simple, if they can do it what can we learn from them so we can do it. Since its’s an Open Access article, I am reprinting the entire paper, even the bibliography. Perhaps it will encourage a student to enter the field, and years latter... Who knows?)
by Hans-Georg Simon
Correspondence: Hans-Georg Simon firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Pediatrics, Northwestern University, The Feinberg School of Medicine, Children's Memorial Research Center, 2300 Children's Plaza, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
BMC Biology 2012, 10:15 doi:10.1186/1741-7007-10-15
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0
), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
The recent introduction of in vivo lineage-tracing techniques using fluorescently labeled cells challenged the long-standing view that complete dedifferentiation is a major force driving vertebrate tissue regeneration. The report in BMC Developmental Biology by Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte and colleagues adds a new twist to a rapidly evolving view of the origin of blastemal cells. As classic and recent experimental findings are considered together, a new perspective on vertebrate muscle regeneration is emerging.
Loss or serious damage to tissues cannot be repaired - at least not in humans. A severed limb does not grow back, an infarcted heart muscle does not heal by itself. Many animal species do, however, have surprising regenerative abilities. Studies of these natural regenerating systems promise to provide a conceptual understanding of the biology of tissue regeneration, and even partial achievements could revolutionize approaches to regeneration in the clinic.
How is the vast range of cells and tissues rebuilt during vertebrate regeneration?
Like other organs, vertebrate appendages are composed of complex tissues that originate from multiple germ layers. The limb, for example, consists of epidermis and a peripheral nervous system, both derived from ectoderm, and other internal tissues such as muscle, bone, dermis, and blood vessels, which have a mesodermal origin. In a regeneration-competent vertebrate, damage or complete loss of an appendage initiates a regenerative response that typically involves the early formation of a growth zone of undifferentiated cells, the blastema, at the distal end of the stump. The origin of the newly formed blastemal cells and their fate during the regeneration process have been on-going topics of debate over the past century. Early studies using the regenerating salamander limb and tail indicated that injured multinucleated myofibers can dedifferentiate, give rise to mononucleate progeny, and contribute to the regenerating blastema. Tracing individually labeled myotubes after transplantation documented their capacity to redifferentiate into different lineages within the regenerate, indicating the multipotent nature of derived progenitors cells . Recent advances in generating green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing transgenic frogs, salamanders, and fish, combined with molecular marker analyses, have enabled in vivo tracking of cells with high precision. Revisiting the open questions concerning the overall contribution and transdifferentiation of lineages, Kragl et al.  demonstrated that the salamander limb blastema primarily contains lineage-restricted progenitors that remain within their original lineage as they rebuild the lost tissue.
The first demonstration in a vertebrate that different tissues, such as muscle and nerve, are regenerated from distinct progenitor pools came from work on Xenopus tadpole tail regeneration . These studies indicated that the activation of muscle-specific stem cells (that is, Pax7+ satellite cells localized adjacent to mature fibers, rather than dedifferentiation, drive muscle regeneration in premetamorphic frogs. In addition, the new study by Rodrigues and colleagues  with amputated zebrafish larvae tails produced no evidence of dedifferentiation of the myofibers. Ultrastructural and gene expression data, however, revealed signs of incomplete dedifferentiation in regenerating tadpole tail muscle fibers. This unexpected phenotype might indicate that partial cellular dedifferentiation is sufficient to condition the muscle into a regeneration program, which might not just comprise the myofiber but also could include the activation of satellite cells. A lineage restriction for bone has also been documented in regenerating zebrafish fins, although a cycle of osteoblast dedifferentiation and redifferentiation was demonstrated during blastema formation . In mammals, appendage regeneration is limited to the digit tip, permitting the study of cartilage, bone, epidermal, and nervous tissues but not of muscle tissue as this lineage is not present in this distally amputated tissue. Using the adult limb  or neonatal limb model , in combination with tissue-specific and inducible mouse cre-reporter lines, these two conceptually similar lineage analyses reached the same conclusion: during mammalian digit-tip regeneration, tissue-resident stem or progenitor cells are fate restricted.
Thus, the recent data from frog, salamander, fish, and mouse models support the hypothesis that lineage restriction during regeneration is the norm. Apparently, each tissue provides a distinct progenitor cell pool to the regeneration blastema, indicating that the vertebrate blastema is a heterogeneous population of cells that have different tissue origins and restricted potentials, which together coordinately regenerate the complex appendage. These studies did not, however, address or conclusively answer the question of whether dedifferentiation occurs within a specific lineage. By contrast, in salamanders, abundant data exist for skeletal muscle dedifferentiation. This finding is supported by recent studies in salamander and zebrafish cardiac muscle regeneration, where dedifferentiation of heart muscle cells results in expansion and redifferentiation to the original cell type [8,9]. Cre/loxP-based lineage tracing to compare the fates of skeletal muscle fibers and satellite cells will be crucial in finally determining the significance of skeletal muscle dedifferentiation versus stem cell activation in this lineage.
Does muscle have an independent role in controlling the differentiated status?
It is possible that both stem cell activation and dedifferentiation contribute to the production of proliferating progenitors for regeneration. For any specific cell type that acts as a source for new blastemal cells, whether it functions as a stem cell or through dedifferentiation to a progenitor state, a specific molecular programming or reprogramming mechanism must be in place to orchestrate the cellular behaviors that drive the regeneration process. Some evidence that muscle might indeed have a particular position in regeneration has come from investigations on the plasticity of the muscle cell differentiation status. The first experimental evidence that a transcription factor can induce a dedifferentiation response in a mammalian myotube that was thought to be terminally differentiated was reported, a decade ago already, by Odelberg et al. . Their key finding was that forced expression of the homeobox protein Msx1 in mammalian myotubes resulted in the fragmentation and generation of mononucleated myoblasts. These findings were then extended by the same group, who demonstrated that the intracellular signaling pathways for dedifferentiation are intact in mammalian cells. Recently, Lehoczky and colleagues  proposed a new role for Msx1 as a mediator of bone morphogenic protein (BMP) activity in mouse digit tip regeneration after amputation. Msx1-expressing cells were found to reside in the distal clot, suggesting that the Msx1 protein has a signaling function during regeneration.
The tumor suppressor retinoblastoma protein (RB) has long been known to serve as a cell-cycle gate-keeper, and its natural inactivation by phosphorylation during salamander limb regeneration allows mature muscle cells to dedifferentiate and subsequently enter the cell cycle. While the situation is somewhat more complicated in the mammal, the experimental inactivation of both RB and the alternative reading frame (ARF) tumor suppressor has shown that mammalian muscle cells also can be induced to dedifferentiate and proliferate by the inactivation of these tumor suppressors . These findings in skeletal muscle are echoed by studies in mammalian cardiomyocytes. Engel et al.  demonstrated that a combination of fibroblast growth factor1 (FGF1) stimulation and p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase inhibition can induce dedifferentiation, including contractile apparatus breakdown, following cell proliferation.
Although major inroads have been made over the past years into understanding the mechanisms of cellular reprogramming, especially in creating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), our knowledge of this process and how it could be applied in the context of regeneration is still in its infancy.
Which factors should be used to induce terminally differentiated cells to become plastic?
A close look at the extracellular environment at the wound site might offer some new clues that could help to bring order to the seemingly random array of transcription and signaling factors that appear to control plasticity. Appendage regeneration is characterized by an immediate and dramatic remodeling of all tissues proximal to the site of tissue loss. Recent work from our laboratory revealed a rapid shift from a collagen and laminin-based stiff extracellular matrix (ECM) to a softer transitional matrix that is rich in hyaluronic acid, tenascin-C, and fibronectin . In vivo high-resolution three-dimensional imaging revealed this transitional matrix within tissues adjacent to muscle fibers and Pax7+ satellite cells. The use of muscle explants in combination with defined matrix environments further demonstrated that distinct ECM components can differentially direct all of the cellular behaviors necessary for limb regeneration, including proliferation, migration, myofiber fragmentation and myoblast fusion. These findings suggest that the ECM can differentially control cellular behavior during the regeneration process by mediating both growth factor availability and the specific binding of matrices to cell-membrane-localized receptors such as integrins. In this way, the ECM can trigger regeneration-specific gene pathways that are important in the recruitment, expansion, and differentiation of blastema cells
Novel approaches to unlock regenerative potential in humans
Recent findings in natural regenerating systems are of great significance because they point to new opportunities to manipulate the local extracellular environment of the wound and possibly to unlock intrinsic regenerative potential by generating new appropriately programmed cells in vivo. Following this more natural path either to induce postmitotic cells to dedifferentiate or to activate local stem cell pools would circumvent many of the problems associated with cell transplantation and might lead to the development of new treatments to enhance regenerative wound healing in humans.
ECM: extracellular matrix; RB: retinoblastoma protein.
I sincerely thank Dr Shannon J Odelberg for critical reading of and suggestions on the manuscript, and Brandon Holtrup for technical expertise in figure design. Regeneration research in the Simon laboratory was supported through Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust and the NIH T90 Regenerative Medicine Training Program.
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Complete reference to be added
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Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico volume 1 and 2
Last year, in Volume one the Ernsts covered Heloderma, Micruroides, Micrurus, Pelamis, Agkistrodon, Sistrurus
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Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years. A review that now needs two volumes to complete. ;Volume One of this definitive work presented dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico's twenty-fifth parallel.
In Volume Two they cover the twenty-one rattlesnakes found in the United States, Canada, and, for the first time, species found only in northern Mexico.
As in Volume I, in Volume II they present the latest research on Crotalus in the United States, Canada, and northern Mexico and featurean extensive bibliography of literature on the subject.
These volumes contain a wealth of information for anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general.
Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico Volume I & II, provides facts on each animal's diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.
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Diamondback Terrapins: Gems of the Turtle World ($24.95 plus
$6 S&H)Complete Owner's Guide to Keeping and Breeding Diamondback Terrapins. Chapters include Natural History, The Genus Malaclemys, Terrapins in Captivity, Health Care, Breeding, and Conservation. * The first book written on all 7 diamondback terrapin subspecies. * The only book with over 150 color photos of diamondback terrapins. * Book includes picture of the one and only albino diamondback terrapin. *Information and pictures on a possible 8th subspecies. 85 pages. by James Lee and Samuel Chew.
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Invasive Pythons in the United States- Ecology of an Introduced
Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson, Foreword by Whit Gibbons
The first detailed, comprehensive study of this invasive predator
Page count: 176, 188 color photos, 8 maps, 1 table, 7 figures
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"The amount of misinformation and hysteria surrounding the discovery of viable populations of large pythons has been mind-boggling. This text provides a serious, scientifically-valid overview of an important ecological problem and will be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of scientists and non-scientists alike.";Richard Seigel,Professor and Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, Towson University
"Invasive species come in all shapes and sizes;but few biological invaders are as dramatic as giant pythons. In this magnificently illustrated book, two accomplished snake biologists separate fact from fiction, and provide a user-friendly but scientifically rigorous account of how the pythons got to the USA, what we know about these troublesome aliens, and what impacts they are likely to have on the complex ecosystems of the Everglades and beyond.;Rick Shine, University of Sydney
Most people think of pythons as giant snakes in distant tropical jungles, but Burmese pythons, which can reach lengths of over twenty feet and weigh over two hundred pounds, are now thriving in southern Florida.
These natives of Asia are commonly kept as pets and presumably escaped or were released in the Everglades. Pythons are now common in this region; widespread throughout hundreds of square miles, they are breeding and appear to be expanding their range. Pythons are voracious predators that feed on a variety of native wildlife including wading
birds, bobcats, white-tailed deer, and even alligators. Their presence has drawn dramatic media attention and stoked fears among the public
that pythons may threaten not just native species but humans as well.
Despite this widespread concern, information on pythons has been limited to a few scientific publications and news coverage that varies widely in fact and accuracy. With Invasive Pythons in the United States, Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson provide the most reliable, up-to-date, and scientifically grounded information on invasive pythons. Filled with over two hundred color photographs and fifteen figures and maps, the book will help general readers and the scientific community better understand these fascinating animals and their troubling presence in the United States.
Features information on:
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Diamonds in the Marsh - A Natural History of the Diamondback Terrapin
University Press of New England
2006 - 236 pp. 24 Color Illus. 35 B&W illus. 4 Tables. 6 x 9"
The first book-length investigation of a fascinating reptile
She's the mascot for the University of Maryland's sports teams (their slogan: Fear the Turtle) and her ancestors were nearly driven to extinction by Victorians who indulged in turtle soup. But as she buries herself in the mud every night to sleep, the diamondback terrapin knows none of this. The size of a dinner plate, she can live at least forty years and is the only turtle in North America who can live in brackish and salty waters.
The diamondback terrapin is named for the beautiful concentric rings on its shell. Its habitat ranges from Cape Cod to Corpus Christi, Texas, with seven subspecies identified along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Several diamondback populations have been the subjects of ecological studies in recent years, but most of that information was buried in scientific literature and various state and federal reports-until now.
Synthesizing all known research on this remarkable animal, Diamonds in the Marsh is the first full-scale natural history of the diamondback terrapin. Focusing on the northern diamondback, Barbara Brennessel examines its evolution, physiology, adaptations, behavior, growth patterns, life span, genetic diversity, land use, reproduction, and early years. She also discusses its relationship to humans, first as an important food source from colonial times through the nineteenth century, and more recently as a cultural icon, frequently depicted in Native American art and design. She concludes with a look at contemporary hazards to the terrapin, and urges continued study of this marvelous creature.
„Environmentalists, ecologists and marine biologists will delight in this meticulously detailed but highly readable look at the only North American turtle species that can tolerate the Œfresh water, salt water, and everything in between‚‰ ˜Publishers Weekly
A serious treatment of the natural history of one of the most beloved creatures of the Eastern Seaboard... well illustrated with photographs.‰˜Natural New England Magazine
"A comprehensive natural history such as Diamonds in the Marsh is an invaluable tool in the study and conservations of a species, and can provide a solid foundation for future research, conservation, and management decisions. Brennessel effectively pulls together the bulk of literature on the diamondback and communicates it to the reader in a generally clear, uncluttered fashion so as to make it not only a resource for researchers, but also an interesting read for reptile aficionados."˜Herpetological Review
Useful for anyone interested in coastal species or reptiles.‰˜Northeastern Naturalist
Brennessel introduces us to the unsung heroes working to ensure the Terrapin's future. Her book offers inspiration to those wondering, ŒWhat can I do?‚ „˜Charles Landrey, Director, The Turtle Conservation Project, www.NewEnglandTurtles.org
More than a mere treatise on terrapins; this is a book of fascinating facts about the lives of these turtles, intermingled with pertinent history˜written throughout with lucidity and subtle humor.‰˜Charlotte B. Sornborger, Terrapin Researcher, Barrington Land Conservation Trust and President, Audubon Society of Rhode Island
BARBARA BRENNESSEL is Professor of Biology at Wheaton College. Trained as a biochemist, she is a summer resident of Wellfleet, Cape Cod. She shifted her research interests to the diamondback terrapin after spending the summer of 2001 researching the species with the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
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