Female Taricha newts are more poisonous than males

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of newts Genus in case Coming armed a A powerful neurotoxin Tetrodotoxin is released from their skin. The poison is a Chemical defenses used against predators. as if The study was published in the journal November 28 Frontiers in Amphibian and Reptile ScienceA group of biologists describes how it is a woman in case Newts produce more tetrodotoxin than males. The findings suggest that tetrodotoxin is not only a line of defense, but also a form of signaling.

[Related: Poisonous animals probably took their sweet time developing unappetizing bright colors.]

“It has long been thought that the toxin content of newts does not change throughout life and that males and females have similar concentrations of toxin. Now, we have shown that female newts contain more toxins than male newts. he said in a statement.. “We observed significantly higher and more variable toxin concentrations in females, which may have multiple factors, such as mate choice.”

Completely toxic properties

Tetrodotoxin It is also available in The deadly blue-ringed octopus, pufferfish and some shellfish and amphibian species. In sexually reproducing animals, Sexually dimorphic features Like the size and bright color of a dog’s teeth, it may be key to their reproductive fitness and survival. These are believed to have different characteristics An individual increases the chance of producing the next generation Race.

Scientists already knew in case Newts had other sexually dimorphic featuresThey were curious to know if there were differences between the sexes in terms of mass, size and tail height, so venom production.

in the Research, the authors took tetrodotoxin samples from more than 850 newts at 38 different sites in California. For all animals sex, size, mass and tail height and if the female newts are pregnant. New specimens caught and released are marked so that they can be identified as previous specimens.

The team then analyzed their skin to determine how much toxin was found in men compared to women. They also looked at relationships between sexually dimorphic variables such as size and tail height and toxin levels that they could sample more than once during the breeding season, and how toxin levels changed across study sites.

Understanding how these toxins work can help biologists better understand newts’ reproductive strategies and aid in conservation measures. A A recent study It found that two out of five amphibians are threatened with extinction and two out of five terrestrial vertebrates remain threatened.

Killer woman

The authors Females carry more toxins than male newts. While tetrodotoxin levels generally changed in both sexes, the change in toxin levels in females was greater. This means that female newts can be more dangerous than male.

[Related: How we can help the most endangered class of animals survive climate change.]

“These massive stocks pose a serious threat to potential predators,” Bucciarelli said. “Taricha newts should not be caught except by knowledgeable people, because they can be caught. [to] 54 mg of tetrodotoxin per individual. Doses of up to 42 micrograms per kilogram of body weight can cause hospitalization or death.

Tetrodotoxin interacts with some sexually dimorphic traits. Heavy newts produced higher levels of toxin than light newts, and medium levels of toxin were always higher in females, regardless of size and weight. The physical resources needed to produce the venom may be invested differently by women than by men. Their skin can carry a lot of toxins.

Higher levels of tetrodotoxin may protect vulnerable females from predators during breeding. It also allows the females to transfer venom-producing bacteria to their eggs and protect their offspring from snakes.

Patterns of poison

Previously, tetrodotoxin was believed to be the only defense against snakes. The different proportions between the sexes suggest that there may be more. A scent with a high content of toxic substances can be a signal that helps newbies decide where to look for a mate and which mate to choose.

in case Breeding patterns of newts are highly dependent on rainfall patterns. Given California drought conditions“We didn’t always have a balanced design when we were field sampling.” Bucciarelli said. “However, we feel the design is still very strong. Our next plan is to investigate how drought and fire affect newts and toxic concentrations, and how each sex responds to these natural hazards.

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