Toxic newts and the snakes who are resistant to them are topic of renowned biologist's seminar
It's called a rough-skinned newt, or Taricha granulosa, and it's one of the most deadly animals in the world. On Tuesday, Oct. 9, University of Virginia biologist Dr. Butch Brodie III will present a seminar at Lewis-Clark State College called "The Parable of the Coffeepot and the Newt: Why Snakes Evolved Resistance to a Deadly Poison." The presentation is part of the 2012 LCSC Natural Sciences Seminar Series and takes place at 4 p.m. in Sacajawea Hall, Room 115. The public is welcome to attend.
The skin secretions from the rough-skinned Newt, a docile animal, block nerves and muscles in vertebrates and can contain enough toxin to kill 20 or more humans. Any animal that attempts to eat the newt is likely to die. Any animal, that is, except garter snakes.
Dr. Brodie III will address questions such as: How could evolution lead to such deadly animals? Why do garter snakes alone seem to be able to eat these toxic prey? Are newts and snakes caught in a co-evolutionary arms-race?
According to LCSC Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Michael Edgehouse, Brodie and his father are a team of world class biologists. Dr. Butch Brodie Jr. began researching the snake/newt system, as it is called, in 1968 upon request of his advisor at Western Oregon. This led him to discover that the newt (Taricha granulosa) kills everything that tries to eat it. Eventually his son, Dr. Brodie III (Butch), became involved with scientific research and has taken the investigation of this system even further.
"The Brodies are in the forefront of co-evolutionary research and we are definitely lucky and privileged to have them at LCSC for a day," said Edgehouse.
Here is a link to PBS program highlighting this unique father/son team: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/3/l_013_07.html
For more information contact Dr. Michael Edgehouse at 208-792-2055 or firstname.lastname@example.org