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Re: Pitohui poison: from beetles?
Here's more on the Pitohui poison research:
STORIES ABOUT JACK DUMBACHER'S RESEARCH
From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences web site:
Origin of a Natural Poison
A potential dietary source for the toxins found in poison-dart frogs and
passerine birds has been identified. Jack Dumbacher from the California
Academy of Sciences and colleagues found deadly batrachotoxins in Melyrid
beetles of New Guinea. These beetles are eaten by birds, which accumulate
the toxins in their skins. Neither birds nor frogs appear to produce the
toxins by themselves and are assumed to obtain them through diet.
Batrachotoxins, which are more potent than curare, are a defense mechanism
against parasites and predators. Acting on the suggestions of local New
Guinean naturalists, the team investigated Melyrid beetles of the genus
Choresine as a potential toxin source. Contact with these beetles is known
to cause facial irritation. Their laboratory tests showed that the small
beetles are a highly concentrated source of several types of batrachotoxins.
Closely related Choresine beetles were also found digested in one of the New
Guinean birds. The team suggests that Choresine beetles are the most likely
source of the toxin in New Guinean birds, and relatives in the family
Melyridae may similarly supply Colombian frogs. Read a report here:
From Science Magazine's Science Now Web feature:
Melyrid beetles may be the long-sought source of neurotoxins in the skins of
poisonous birds and frogs, according to a new paper in the Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences. In New Guinea, the beetles and Pitohui and
Ifrita birds share the name "nanisani" because they cause numbness when
handled. Taking a cue from this link, the researchers found batrachotoxins
in these beetles, which they suspect are eaten by the birds as well as by
Colombian poison-dart frogs that have similar toxins in their skin. View
story here: http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/
The journal Nature will run an article about Jack's research in the "News
and Views" section of this week's journal, which will come out on Thursday.
New Scientist will run an article about Jack's research next week (the new
issue comes out on Wednesday).
Science News will also run an article about Jack's research next week (the
new issue comes out on Saturday).
Dave Perlman from the San Francisco Chronicle has written an article that
will run sometime in the next week.
Chemistry World and Chemical and Engineering News will both cover Jack's
research in upcoming issues.
The German news organization, Wissenschaft, ran a story about Jack's
"Dino Guy" Ralph W. Miller III
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
proud member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology