Friday, 20 October 2017

UA Researcher Develops Snake Bite Treatment- - via Herp Digest

Novel combination of carbon monoxide and iron delays venom's damaging effects.
by Sara Hammond, Arizona Public Media 10/12/17

A University of Arizona College of Medicine researcher has developed a therapy to delay or prevent the life-threatening effects of being bitten by a rattlesnake or other venomous snakes.

Anesthesiologist Vance Nielsen tested a combination of carbon monoxide and iron in animals. The treatment blocked the venom’s effects for up to an hour. Dr. Nielsen's research was published in the journals Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology and the Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis.

Snake venom destroys a protein that enables blood to clot. Venom also can cause abnormally fast clotting, leading to heart attack, stroke and organ damage. It's those conditions that can lead to a person's death from a bite.

The new therapy can do more than provide time for victims to get to a hospital for antivenom drugs.

“It may also play a role in supportive therapy, especially with snakes, and there are many that don’t have antivenoms available,” he said.

The therapy can be used to treat the bites of multiple snake species found in North and South America and Africa, not just the Western Diamondback rattlesnake.   

Nielsen said the therapy still must undergo human testing. He's working with Tech Launch Arizona to find commercial funding for continued development.

The therapy could be stocked in ambulances for use by first responders or carried in campers' and hikers' first aid kits. The treatment will help horses, dogs and cats bitten by a snake.

Ancient Sea Creature Looked Like a Wine Glass, Died Alone

A solitary fossil unearthed in Utah's Antimony Canyon reveals a long-extinct marine creature previously unknown to science.

Resembling a dainty tulip bloom or an elegant white-wine glass, the 500-million-year-old bottom-feeder called Siphusauctum lloydguntheri looked uniquely ready for a romantic evening of sucking up microplankton along the seafloor. Sadly for the specimen, the world's only known example of S. lloydguntheri appears to have died alone, leaving no descendants past the end of the Cambrian period (541 million to 485.4 million years ago), possibly the victim of mass extinction.

Researchers at the University of Kansas' Biodiversity Institute described what little is known about the obscure invertebrate in a new paper published in the Journal of Paleontology. [Cambrian Creatures: Photos of Primitive Sea Life]

Scientists eavesdrop on little-known beaked whales to learn how deeply they dive

Date: October 11, 2017
Source: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Scientists have reported the first dive depths for Gervais' and True's beaked whales, two of the least known beaked whale species known as mesoplodonts. The study is also the first to use a towed linear hydrophone array to document dive depths for beaked whales, and researchers say it's a promising method to obtain dive depths for other beaked whale species.

Bycatch responsible for decline of endangered New Zealand sea lion

Date:  October 11, 2017
Source:  University of Otago

Getting caught in fishing nets is a major cause of death for the increasingly endangered New Zealand sea lion, according to new research from the New Zealand's University of Otago and Massey University and the University of Toronto.

Scientists from the three universities have analyzed government data of the New Zealand sea lion population and fisheries bycatch to investigate the role commercial fishing has played in the near 50 per cent decline of the species.

An evolving sticky situation- While many animals try to avoid sticky situations, lizards evolved to seek them out. An evolutionary biologist shows how different groups of lizards -- geckos and anoles -- took two completely different evolutionary paths to developing the beneficial trait of sticky toe pads. – via Herp Digest

Source: Michigan State University, 10/12/17

Travis Hagey, Michigan State University evolutionary biologist, shows how different groups of lizards - geckos and anoles - took two completely different evolutionary paths to developing the beneficial trait of sticky toe pads.
Credit: Luke Mahler

While many animals try to avoid sticky situations, lizards evolved to seek them out.

Travis Hagey, Michigan State University evolutionary biologist, shows how different groups of lizards -- geckos and anoles -- took two completely different evolutionary paths to developing the beneficial trait of sticky toe pads.

In a paper published in the journal Evolution, Hagey showed that anoles seemed to commit to a single type of toe pad, one that generates lots of friction. As a group, they were able to develop sticky toe pads early. Geckos, meanwhile, opted for an evolutionary "drunken stumble," and seemingly didn't commit to a single approach, instead evolving toe pads that generate plenty of friction in some species and others that excel at sticking directly to a surface.

The stumbling theory, formally known as the Brownian motion model, best explains gecko evolution. Different groups of geckos sought various approaches and jumped at adaptive solutions. They achieved the beneficial traits by pursuing different ways, moving forward some eras and backward during others, Hagey said.

Did anoles have but one option? Is there merely one evolutionary path to become the best tree-climbing lizard? Were geckos more laissez faire with evolution?

"We're trying to explain how evolution works and how predictable it is," said Hagey, who's part of MSU's BEACON Center for Evolution in Action. "Good science answers one question while producing more questions. Anoles and geckos are two different large groups of lizards. They live on different continents, and evolutionarily, they're separated by 250 million years of time. So even though they have some of the same traits, you can't assume that they were developed the same way.”

Evolution is a tinkerer, he added. Hagey likens it to a person who lives on a dirt road and decides to build a bicycle.

"But they can use only the parts they can get their hands on and make modifications and repairs until they get a bike they like," Hagey said. "Two different people might build two different bikes that both work well on dirt roads, but the process and steps they went though will probably be different. The same is true for geckos and anoles. They both evolved sticky toes but got there different ways.”

Hagey's research team included scientists from the University of Idaho, Cambridge, the University of London, and Lewis and Clark College.

In a related paper in PLOS ONE, Hagey chose to focus on limb length. Geckos and anoles live on trees and climb vertical surfaces. They have to deal with the same mechanical aspects, but did they take different paths to gain those advantages? Did they evolve traits that emphasized sprint speed over balance or vice versa?

"Studying sticky toe pads and limb length help scientists understand how and why animals are shaped the way they're shaped and the mechanics of their movement," Hagey said. "You'd think there would be only one good way to climb a tree or one good way to swim, but there are many."
For both studies, Hagey traveled to exotic locales in the Dominican Republic, Australia and Thailand. Visiting a breeder in Oklahoma allowed him to observe 15 lizard species from five continents. Overall, his research reviewed 30 species of geckos and 20 species of anoles.

The study showed that geckos generally have shorter legs than anoles. The scientists are unsure why this is the case, but once they factored in the length difference they made an interesting observation.

Lizards living on bushes, regardless of geckos or anoles, have long tails, striped backs and long legs. Those living on small branches in the canopy of a forest tend to be brown, with short tails, long snouts and short legs. These traits were consistent despite being separated by oceans or hemispheres.

"Even though we were able to find some cool similarities, we really don't know why, yet," Hagey said. "Maybe they're all adapting to be the best bush lizards or the best tree-climbing lizards and all heading toward the same evolutionary solutions."

Story Source:
Materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

            1          Travis J. Hagey, Josef C. Uyeda, Kristen E. Crandell, Jorn A. Cheney, Kellar Autumn, Luke J. Harmon. Tempo and mode of performance evolution across multiple independent origins of adhesive toe pads in lizards. Evolution, 2017; 71 (10): 2344 DOI: 10.1111/evo.13318
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