Category Archives: Brazil

THE SNAKE ISLAND OF BRAZIL VIDEO REPORT ON VENOMOUS SNAKES

Published on May 28, 2013

ilha de queimada grande. AKA Snake island. One of the islands in this world you would least like to get stuck at.

Located 30 miles of, of the coast of Sao Paulo, this island harvests a colony of some of the most venomous snakes in the world.

This snake is called the Golden Lancehead. The good news about this highly venomous snake is that you can’t find it anywhere but on this island. The bad news is that there are quiet many of them. Rough estimations have the population at over 400000. Or one snake per every square meter.

It is forbidden for anyone to even set foot on the island. Legend has it that the last person that ignored this warning is a fisherman that was found bleeding to dead in his own boat.

What you are looking at now is an actual picture of the lighthouse that is still on the island as of today. The second big myth about the island is that the family that lived there to work the lighthouse all got driven into the rain forest and killed when snakes eventually invested their home.

The lancehead species is responsible for the most snake related deaths in South America. This particular member of the lancehead family carries a venom that is 5 times as strong as that of your “average” Lancehead.
It may be fun to break the rules from time to time but you have a better chance at staying alive trying to trespass the white houses yard.

Birds wish their government would forbid them to set foot on this island as well, as they are what the Lanceheads feed on mostly. Although being as ruthless as they are, they even feed on their own species from time to time.

The bottom line is if you are planning on going to Brazil for your vacation then you are better of taking a stroll trough the favella’s then you are visiting this island.

It is sad that some people are talking about burning the island down and local farmers have even started fires in the past to potentially turn the island into a banana farm.
These snakes should be left alone tough. This island is a unique piece of nature with a unique habitat. It’s a piece of the Brazilian rain forest that is being harmed enough as it is.

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Henry Sapiecha

What’s the Difference Between Poisonous and Venomous Animals?

The first known venomous frogs, discovered in Brazil, raise some basic questions about

toxic biology

Corythomantis greeningi frogs carry potent venom in their pouts. image www.pythonjungle.com

Amid an arid forest of cacti, Corythomantis greeningi frogs look pretty harmless. In contrast to the bright cautionary colors of poison dart frogs, these tree frogs sport drab brown and green hues. So when Carlos Jared of Brazil’s Butantan Institute ventured out to collect and study them, he didn’t think they posed much of a threat—until he felt pain in his palm.

Compared to the Brazilian pit viper, C. greeningi is two times as lethal

brazil desert image www.pythonjungle.com

The two hylid frog species make their homes in desert forests called Caatingi in Brazil

“It took me a long time to realize that the pain had a relationship with the intense and careless collection of these animals hitting the palm of my hands,” recalls Jared. The biologist fell prey to a totally unique defense mechanism: The helmet-headed frogs use spikes along their lips to inject potent chemicals, giving aggressors a mix between a head butt and a toxic smooch. After careful study, Jared and his team found that C. greeningi and a related species of hylid frog, Aparasphenodon brunoi, are the only venomous frogs known to science.

frogspikes_toxic image www.pythonjungle.com

A closeup of a C. greeningi frog’s skin reveals the spikes that line its lips and the front of its head. (Carlos Jared)

“This is very, very cool. Unprecedented would actually be an understatement,” says Bryan Fry, a molecular biologist at the University of Queensland who was not affiliated with the study. But if we already knew frogs could be poisonous, why is this discovery such a big deal? The answer lies in the often-misunderstood difference between poison and venom.

komododragon_image www.pythonjungle.com

For years, scientists though that the Komodo dragon killed using bacteria that grow in its mouth. In reality, the lizards make their own venom in tiny mouth glands that no one had noticed before.

Some people use the words interchangeably because once in the body, the chemicals do
similar damage, attacking the heart, brain or other vital targets. But the terms do mean very
different things. Traditionally, venomous creatures bite, sting or stab you to do their damage
, while you have bite or touch poisonous critters to feel their effects. That means venomous
organisms need a way in, like fangs or teeth.
All octopuses are venomous, along with some squid, plenty of snakes, spiders, and scorpions,
octopus image www.pythonjungle.com
Also a few lizards, vampire bats and even the slow lorisNycticebus kayan.
Some fish, including lionfish, use spines to sting attackers with venom.
lionfish_image www.pythonjungle.com
The Brazilian frogs aren’t even the only venomous amphibians.
When attacked, Iberian ribbed newts push out their own ribs so that spikes on the ends

jab a predator with toxin.

The Iberian ribbed newt image www.pythonjungle.com

The Iberian ribbed newt widens its ribs to push out spikes Wolverine-style and nick predators with the venomous tips. Though the newts’ toxins are less well studied, researchers think the animals may employ a similar venomous strategy to that of the hylid frogs.

Poisonous organisms take a more passive approach, often lining the skin or other surfaces with toxic chemicals. Poisons can either be brewed from scratch inside the animal or acquired through diet.

Cane toads naturally secrete poison they make in glands behind their ears.

canetoad identification image www.pythonjungle.com

Meanwhile, poison dart frogs generate a highly poisonous alkaloid skin coating they derive from munching on ants. Mama frogs pass the chemical on to tadpoles via egg sacs, so if you take a young poison dart frog out of its natural habitat, it will actually lose toxicity.

Having to digest unsavory foods to survive may be what drove some organisms to evolve poisons, which are primarily used to defend against predators. “If this provided some protection against predation, you can see how this could favor the evolution of systems to actually concentrate the toxins in the skin rather than dispose of them,” explains Kyle Summers, an evolutionary biologist at East Carolina University.

Venoms have popped up on roughly 30 separate occasions across the tree of life, estimates Fry. Most derive from perfectly normal enzymes. For example, spider venom originated from a harmless hormone—the spider version of insulin. One way that can happen is when the gene for a common protein in one organ gets duplicated. The copy mutates and eventually shows up somewhere it’s not supposed to be—like the salivary glands in snakes. When the creature then bites prey or defends itself against a predator, the tweaked protein might be slightly toxic to their opponent. Over time, evolution favors the venomous members of the species and the enzyme evolves in potency.

In the case of the venomous frogs, both species were discovered in the 1800s, but they had hopped under the radar until now because no one had previously taken an in-depth look at their biology.

“Even the most recent book on Brazilian frogs lists them as nontoxic,” says study co-author Edmund Brodie, a biologist at Utah State University. So after Jared’s incident in the field, he wanted to figure out what kind of toxic wizardry might be at play. The researchers carefully collected wild C. greeningi and A. brunoi for lab tests. They found that both frogs secrete a sticky white concoction of compounds that contains some of the same characteristics as venom.

The team then saw that glands supply the toxin to spikes in the frogs’ skin. When the frogs flex their helmet heads up and down or side-to-side, the spikes jab the skin of unsuspecting predators (or scientists) like biological syringes, injecting small doses of the toxin into the bloodstream, Jared and his colleagues report today in Current Biology. Modern hylid frogs have no known predators. However, somewhere down the line it must have given them an advantage over something trying to eat them.

Alternatively, like the male platypus, the frogs could be using their venom to take out mating competition.

platypus_image www.pythonjungle.com

By contrast, venoms evolved for defense, offense—or both. Some organisms even use venom in mating. The male platypus shoots his toxin out of tiny, prickly foot barbs to paralyze rival suitors.
Don’t let the adorable duck bill fool you. Platypus venom, manufactured in the egg-laying mammal’s cural glands, briefly paralyzes mating rivals, allowing the victor to swoop in on a female.

Because the toxins get delivered in different ways, venoms tend to be larger compounds that must be injected to break through skin, while poisons are usually smaller chemicals that can be absorbed. So is one type of toxin fundamentally more potent than the other?

Golden poison arrow frogs can kill a human with as little as two micrograms of their alkaloid skin goo.

goldendartfrog_image www.pythonjungle.com

Meanwhile, a single drop of inland taipan snake venom can kill 100 people.

inlandtaipain_snake image www.pythonjungle.com

 A. brunoi is 25 times as lethal. Roughly one gram of A. brunoi’s venom could kill 300,000 mice or 80 humans. That said, the hylid frogs probably produce and deliver their venom in much smaller doses.

brunoi frog image www.pythonjungle.com

A. brunoi frogs have similar head structures to those of C. greeningi, so researchers think they might serve similar purposes. (Carlos Jared)

“The toxicity of both poisons and venoms varies dramatically across species in nature,” says Summers, so it’s impossible to say that one type of chemical weapon is fundamentally more dangerous. The main takeaway is that both venom and poison can kill you in truly horrifying and painful ways. Field biologists, beware.

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Henry Sapiecha