Tag Archives: Reptiles

Diagnosing stomach disease in pet reptiles

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A popular “get well” card shows a racoon saying to a snake, “You wouldn’t get these stomach aches if you chewed your food properly.” Vets know, however, that indigestion in snakes and other reptiles often results not from swallowing food whole but from a parasitic infection. The gastrointestinal disease cryptosporidiosis represents a particularly severe problem: […]

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Bizarre reptile challenges notion of crocodiles as ‘living fossils’

We all know that crocodiles are reptiles with long snouts, conical teeth, strong jaws and long tails. But according to researchers at Stony Brook University in New York, we don’t know what we thought we knew. Rather, some crocodiles possessed a dazzling array of adaptations that resulted in unique and sometimes bizarre anatomy, including blunt, […]

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Grey wolves regain protected status

Efforts over 15 years to protect the species in the US have helped boost the wolves’ numbers. This has been so successful that last year the US Fish and Wildlife Service removed Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for wolves in Idaho and Montana, though not in Wyoming. But last week, district judge Donald Malloy overturned […]

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First genetic link between reptile and human heart evolution found

Scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease (GICD) have traced the evolution of the four-chambered human heart to a common genetic factor linked to the development of hearts in turtles and other reptiles. The research, published in the September 3 issue of the journal Nature, shows how a specific protein that turns on genes […]

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Animal mating choices more complex than once thought

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When female tiger salamanders choose a mate, it turns out that size does matter – tail size that is – and that’s not the only factor they weigh. Findings of a Purdue University study show that animals make more complex decisions about choosing mates than once thought. The results of Andrew DeWoody’s study, released Monday […]

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Mosquito evolution spells trouble for Galapagos wildlife

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The Galapagos giant tortoise and other iconic wildlife are facing a new threat from disease, as some of the islands’ mosquitoes develop a taste for reptile blood. Scientists from the University of Leeds, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Galapagos National Park have discovered that while its mainland ancestors prefer the blood of […]

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Komodo dragons even more deadly than thought: Combined tooth-venom arsenal key to hunting strategy

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A new study has shown that the effectiveness of the Komodo Dragon bite is a combination of highly specialized serrated teeth and venom. The authors also dismiss the widely accepted theory that prey die from septicemia caused by toxic bacteria living in the dragon’s mouth. Using sophisticated medical imaging techniques, an international team led by […]

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Lizards bask in the sun for a vitamin D boost

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Keeping warm isn’t the only reason lizards and other cold-blooded critters bask in the sun. According to a study published in the May/June issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, chameleons alter their sunbathing behavior based on their need for vitamin D. “It’s a longstanding assumption that thermoregulation is the only reason that lizards bask,” says […]

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Prehistoric turtle goes to hospital for CT scan in search for skull, eggs, embryos

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Michael Knell carried a 75-million-year-old turtle into Bozeman Deaconess hospital recently, then laid it carefully on the bed that slides into the CT scanner. Hardly an ordinary patient, the turtle fossil was only the second in the world found with eggs inside it, said Knell, a Montana State University graduate student in earth sciences. His […]

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Serious disease in pet lizards caused by new bacteria

Skin infections are common in pet lizards and can lead to fatal organ disease and septicaemia. Infections are particularly risky in lizards that are bred in captivity for release into the wild, as they can spread into the wild population. The cause of these diseases has been unclear but now researchers in Belgium have discovered […]

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Alligators’ muscles move lungs around for sneaky maneuvers in water

Without a ripple in the water, alligators dive, surface or roll sideways, even though they lack flippers or fins. University of Utah biologists discovered gators maneuver silently by using their diaphragm, pelvic, abdominal and rib muscles to shift their lungs like internal floatation devices: toward the tail when they dive, toward the head when they […]

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How to give a gator heartburn

The way to an alligator’s stomach is through its heart–via the left aorta, to be precise. That’s the upshot of a new study that may have finally explained the enigmatic crocodilian circulatory system. Crocs are able to send deoxygenated blood directly to their stomach, and researchers show that strategy comes in handy when the reptiles […]

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Reptiles join amphibians in mysterious decline

The catastrophic declines in frog and salamander populations in recent years may be even more widespread than had been feared – and the devastation seems to extend to reptiles. Steven Whitfield at Florida International University in Miami, US, and colleagues studied data on ground-dwelling reptiles and amphibians collected over the past 35 years at La […]

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Genes versus heat – a reptile sex trigger

High temperatures can make an Australian lizard that is genetically male develop into a female. The finding throws new light on how sex is determined in reptiles. For most reptiles, a gene on a sex chromosome triggers an embryo to develop as either a male or a female. In some species, males have an X […]

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Dinosaurs breathed like birds

Dinosaurs’ hollow bones may have given them the puff to lead active lifestyles. A fossil find shows that the group of dinosaurs that included Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus rex probably used the same super-efficient respiratory system that birds have today. The fossil, which is of a carnivorous dinosaur called Majungatholus atopus, shows that its bones included […]

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Bird bones offer insights to dinosaur sexing

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A type of bone that female birds use as a calcium reserve for making eggshell has been found inside the fossilised thigh bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex. This new forensic clue could be used to sort the bones of female predatory dinosaurs from those of the males. Discerning the sex of fossilised animals is notoriously […]

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Dinosaur eggs offer clues on reproduction

The rare discovery of eggs inside a dinosaur has given scientists new clues about the reproductive biology of the creatures and more support for the theory that birds came from dinosaurs. The pair of shelled eggs is the first of its kind found inside a dinosaur, said researchers who reported the discovery in Friday’s issue […]

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Blood vessels recovered from Tyrannosaurus rex bone

Palaeontologists have extracted soft, flexible structures that appear to be blood vessels from the bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex that died 68 million years ago. They also have found small red microstructures that resemble red blood cells. The discovery suggests biological information can be recovered from a wider range of fossil material than realised, which […]

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Effect of regulation and education on reptile-associated salmonellosis

Reptiles have become increasingly common as domestic pets, and with them reptile-associated Salmonella infections in humans. From 1990 to 2000, a total of 339 reptile-associated Salmonella cases were reported in Sweden. In 1996, as part of its efforts to adapt its import regulations to those of the European Union, Sweden no longer required certificates stating […]

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Ancient crocodile found in Australia

A new species of crocodile which lived 40 million years ago has been discovered in tropical Australia, filling a gap in the evolution of the prehistoric-looking crocodile, researchers said on Thursday. Two nearly complete skulls and a lower jaw of a new species of crocodile that belonged to a group called Mekosuchinae were unearthed by […]

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