Wild Things: Wildcats, Pigeons and More...- page 5 | Science | Smithsonian
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(Cheryl Carlin)

Wild Things: Wildcats, Pigeons and More...

Sea monster mamas, bat signals and opossum versus viper

Observed: Opossum family Didelphidae

Opossum family
(Cheryl Carlin)
Sleeps: Well.
Eats: Venomous snakes: rattlesnakes, copperheads and other pit vipers.
Upends: The understanding of an “arms race” in the wild. For years it has been known that the proteins in snake venom evolve rapidly, presumably in response to adaptations the reptile’s prey develops that enable it to withstand the venom. But no, says a new study from the University of Minnesota: venom is evolving in response to predators. The study identified changes in an opossum gene associated with venom resistance, suggesting that pit-viper venom changes to keep up a strong defense, not offense

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