African crested rat uses poison from treesAugust 4th, 2011 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS
London, Aug 4 (IANS) African crested rat could be predators’ nightmare, because it applies a deadly plant toxin to sponge-like hairs on its sides to keep them at bay, says a research.
The toxin called ouabain comes from Acokanthera tree, the same source used by East African hunters for poisoning arrows. It is the only known instance of a mammal acquiring a poison from a plant for protection.
The discovery was made by Jonathan Kingdon and colleagues from the National Museums of Kenya, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the University of Oxford, the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B reports.
“The African crested rat is a fascinating example of how a species can evolve a unique set of defences in response to pressure from predators,” said Tim O’Brien, senior scientist of the Wildlife Conservation Society and study co-author.
Scientists have long suspected that the rodent is poisonous, due to the its specialised behaviour, exposing a black-and-white colouration on its flanks when threatened by predators, according to a Wildlife statement.
Instead of producing poison itself — as is the case with poisonous mammals such as the platypus and solenodon — the African crested rat finds its toxin in tree bark.
Researchers confirmed the hypothesis by presenting a wild rat with branches and roots of the Acokanthera tree. It proceeded to gnaw and chew the bark (avoiding the leaves and fruit).
- One third of 'extinct' animals back from the dead - Sep 29, 2010
- Rats have best bite of rodent world: Study - Apr 29, 2012
- Soon, a Pied Piper's flute deadly for rats but harmless for humans, plants - Jan 13, 2011
- Insects resort to mimicry for sheer survival - Dec 19, 2011
- IUCN to inspect Great Himalayan National Park - Jul 18, 2011
- Elephants really do have long memories - Mar 16, 2011
- Dolphins, marine mammals hunted for human consumption - Jan 25, 2012
- Almond tree uses secret weapon to attract potential pollinators - Jan 29, 2010
- Poisonous frogs are better athletes - Mar 30, 2011
- Research shows similarities between marine and terrestrial ecosystems - Nov 11, 2010
- Rare mammal rescued from Jamia campus - Apr 30, 2011
- Elusive venomous mammal caught on camera - Jan 10, 2009
- Early humans may have been prey, not predators - Oct 13, 2010
- Shrew like rat species lives off earthworms - Aug 22, 2012
- Fast test for severe form of food poisoning - Nov 10, 2011
Tags: african hunters, co author, colouration, defences, flanks, hairs, jonathan kingdon, journal proceedings, mammal, national museums, plant toxin, platypus, predators, proceedings of the royal society, proceedings of the royal society b, rodent, tim o brien, tree bark, university of oxford, wildlife conservation society