Sunday, February 12, 2012

Toxicity by Acquisition

Here's a pretty cool article I found in the New York Times about the African crested rat, which is the first known placental mammal to utilize toxicity by acquisition. The rat chews on a poisonous tree bark and spreads the poisonous spit onto its coat.  The fur then soaks in the poison and kills any predators that they lure into taking a bite.  Researchers are unsure of the series of evolutionary events which lead to the rats' dependance on the tree bark, as their morphological structure and other defense tactics alone would not be sufficient to allow the species to survive.

Warm and Furry, but They Pack a Toxic Punch

A poisonous surprise under the coat of the African crested rat

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