Tag Archives: Reptiles

Snakes have adapted their vision to hunt their prey day or night

For example, snakes that need good eyesight to hunt during the day have eye lenses that act as sunglasses, filtering out ultraviolet light and sharpening their vision while nocturnal snakes have lenses that allow ultraviolet light through, helping them to see in the dark. New insights into the relationship between ultraviolet (UV) filters and hunting […]

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How chameleons capture their prey

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Despite their nonchalant appearance, chameleons are formidable predators, capturing their prey by whipping out their tongues with incredible precision. They can even capture preys weighing up to 30% of their own weight. In collaboration with the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle de Paris, researchers from the Université de Mons (UMONS) and the Université libre de Bruxelles […]

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Human-eating monster crocodile may be Florida’s newest invasive species

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Spotting native alligators and crocodiles in Florida is common, but anyone who sees a large reptile may want to take a second look — human-eaters that can grow to 18 feet long and weigh as much as a small car have been found in the Sunshine State. Using DNA analysis, University of Florida researchers have […]

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Top 10 new species for 2016

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A hominid in the same genus as humans and an ape nicknamed “Laia” that might provide clues to the origin of humans are among the discoveries identified by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) as the Top 10 New Species for 2016. The list also includes a new kind of giant Galapagos […]

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Mammal-like reptile survived much longer than thought

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Teeth can reveal a lot, such as how the earliest mammals lived with their neighbors. Researchers have uncovered dozens of fossilized teeth in Kuwajima, Japan and identified this as a new species of tritylodontid, an animal family that links the evolution of mammals from reptiles. This finding suggests that tritylodontids co-existed with some of the […]

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Tunnel through the head: Internally coupled ears enable directional hearing in animals

Humans use the time delay between the arrival of a sound wave at each ear to discern the direction of the source. In frogs, lizards and birds the distance between the ears is too small. However, they have a cavity connecting the eardrums, in which internal and external sound waves are superimposed. Using a universal […]

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Attention: Terrapin! Invasive pond slider on the move

Using genetic methods, scientists of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Dresden discovered that the introduced pond slider is capable of reproducing in Europe even outside of the Mediterranean region. The turtle, originally from North America, poses a significant threat to the native turtle fauna and, according to the authors of the study recently published in […]

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Tiniest chameleons deliver most powerful tongue-lashings

Chameleons are known for sticking their tongues out at the world fast and far, but until a new study by Brown University biologist Christopher Anderson, the true extent of this awesome capability had been largely overlooked. That’s because the smallest species hadn’t been measured. “Smaller species have higher performance than larger species,” said Anderson, a […]

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Marine airgun noise could cause turtle trauma

Scientists from the University of Exeter are warning of the risks that seismic surveys may pose to sea turtles. Widely used in marine oil and gas exploration, seismic surveys use airguns to produce sound waves that penetrate the sea floor to map oil and gas reserves. The review, published in the journal Biological Conservation, found […]

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Illegal trade of Indian star tortoises is a far graver issue

Patterned with star-like figures on their shells, Indian star tortoises can be found in private homes across Asia, where they are commonly kept as pets. One can also see them in religious temples, praised as the living incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. How did they get there? Suspicious of a large-scale illegal international trade […]

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Genetics probe identifies new Galapagos tortoise species

The tortoise Chelonoidis donfaustoi is found on Santa Cruz island in Ecuador. A new species of giant tortoise has been discovered hiding in plain sight on Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. A population of about 250 animals living in an arid inland area of Santa Cruz island turns out to be so genetically distinct from the rest […]

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* Climate change threatens survival of common lizards

While there is no doubt that climate change is affecting many organisms, some species might be more sensitive than others. Reptiles, whose body temperature depends directly on environmental temperature, may be particularly vulnerable. Scientists have now shown experimentally that lizards cope very poorly with the climate predicted for the year 2100. In a new study, […]

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* Reptile pets: Food insects shuttle allergens into homes

Reptiles are often chosen as pets when an allergy risk exists within a family and the choice is made to avoid potentially allergenic pets such as dogs, cats or guinea pigs. Researchers at the Messerli Research Institute, however, recently described a noteworthy clinical case in which an eight-year-old boy developed nightly attacks of severe shortness […]

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Sea turtles face plastic pollution peril

Study warns that all seven species of marine turtle can ingest or become entangled in discarded plastic debris. A new global review led by the University of Exeter that set out to investigate the hazards of marine plastic pollution has warned that all seven species of marine turtles can ingest or become entangled in the […]

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Sex and sea turtles: New study reveals impact of climate change, sea level rise

Marine turtles deposit their eggs in underground nests where they develop unattended and without parental care. Incubation temperature varies with environmental conditions, including rainfall, sun, shade and sand type, and affects developmental rates, hatch and emergence success, and embryonic sex. Although the loggerhead turtle has been around for more than 60 million years, drought, heavy […]

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Four-legged fossil snake is a world first

The first four-legged fossil snake ever found is forcing scientists to rethink how snakes evolved from lizards. Although it has four legs, Tetrapodophis amplectus has other features that clearly mark it as a snake, says Nick Longrich, a palaeontologist at the University of Bath, UK, and one of the authors of a paper describing the […]

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* First artificial insemination of Yangtze giant softshell turtle

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A female Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) — potentially the last female of her species — has been artificially inseminated. The procedure, which brought together top scientists from China, Australia and the United States, provides a ray of hope in a continuing effort to save the world’s most endangered turtle. The pair at the […]

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* World’s second most endangered turtle on road to recovery

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WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) announced that 60 captive-raised Myanmar roofed turtles — a species once thought extinct — have been released into their native habitat in Myanmar. More than 350 villagers, government representatives, and religious leaders attended ceremonies for the release. “This is the first chapter of a longer […]

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* Survey of salmonella species in Staten Island Zoo’s snakes

To better understand the variety of Salmonella species harbored by captive reptiles, Staten Island Zoo has teamed up with the microbiology department at Wagner College. Eden Stark, a graduate student on the project, her advisor, Christopher Corbo, and the zoo’s curator and head veterinarian Marc Valitutto want to know how many Salmonella species live among […]

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Endangered tortoises thrive on invasive plants

Introduced plants make up roughly half the diet of two subspecies of endangered tortoise, field research in the Galapagos reveals. Tortoises seem to prefer non-native to native plants and the plants may help them to stay well-nourished during the dry season. Most research on the role of introduced species of plants and animals stresses their […]

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Dwarf dragons discovered in the Andes of Peru and Ecuador

Scientists have discovered three new species of dragon-esque woodlizards in the Andes of Peru and Ecuador. The new species differ from their closest relatives in scale features, coloration and DNA. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys. The unusual discoveries took place in areas within the 1,542,644 km2 Tropical Andes hotspot, western […]

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Are all rattlesnakes created equal? No, maybe not

But new research by a team of biologists at Florida State University has revealed that creating antivenom is a bit tricky. That’s because the type of venom a snake produces can change according to where it lives. Mark Marges, a Florida State doctoral student in Professor Darin Rokyta’s laboratory, led a research study that examined […]

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* Biologists map crocodilian genomes

A Texas Tech University biologist led a team of more than 50 scientists who mapped the genomes of three crocodilians. By mapping these genomes, scientists may better understand the evolution of birds, which are the toothy predators’ closest living relatives, said David Ray, an associate professor of biology. The team completed genomes of a crocodile, […]

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Turtles and dinosaurs: Scientists solve reptile mysteries with landmark study on the evolution of turtles

A team of scientists, including researchers from the California Academy of Sciences, has reconstructed a detailed “tree of life” for turtles. The specifics of how turtles are related — to one another, to other reptiles, and even to dinosaurs — have been hotly debated for decades. Next generation sequencing technologies in Academy labs have generated […]

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* Origin of the unique ventilatory apparatus of turtles: How the tortoise’s ribs got embedded in its shell

Through the careful study of modern and early fossil tortoise, researchers now have a better understanding of how tortoises breathe and the evolutionary processes that helped shape their unique breathing apparatus and tortoise shell. The findings published in a paper, titled: Origin of the unique ventilatory apparatus of turtles, in the scientific journal, Nature Communications, […]

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Giant tortoises gain a foothold on a Galapagos island

A population of endangered giant tortoises, which once dwindled to just over a dozen, has recovered on the Galapagos island of Española, a finding described as “a true story of success and hope in conservation” by the lead author of a study published Oct. 28. Some 40 years after the first captive-bred tortoises were reintroduced […]

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Crocodiles are sophisticated hunters: Work as a team to hunt their prey

Recent studies have found that crocodiles and their relatives are highly intelligent animals capable of sophisticated behavior such as advanced parental care, complex communication and use of tools for hunting. New University of Tennessee, Knoxville, research published in the journal Ethology Ecology and Evolution shows just how sophisticated their hunting techniques can be. Vladimir Dinets, […]

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Pollution linked to lethal sea turtle tumors

Pollution in urban and farm runoff in Hawaii is causing tumors in endangered sea turtles, a new study finds. The study, published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed open-access journal PeerJ, shows that nitrogen in the runoff ends up in algae that the turtles eat, promoting the formation of tumors on the animals’ eyes, flippers and internal […]

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Flaws emerge in RNA method to build tree of life

Scanning the genome of the painted turtle, Chrysemys picta bellii, revealed microRNAs that were reported missing in earlier studies. Tiny molecules that seemed to provide a powerful way to construct the tree of life may not have such a strong capability after all. A team of scientists has exposed flaws in a previously celebrated method […]

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* Stem cells aid heart regeneration in salamanders

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Imagine filling a hole in your heart by regrowing the tissue. While that possibility is still being explored in people, it is a reality in salamanders. A recent discovery that newt hearts can regenerate may pave the way to new therapies in people who need to have damaged tissue replaced with healthy tissue. Heart disease […]

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