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Re: storing a food source

--- On Wed, 9/23/09, John Scanlon <riversleigh@outbackatisa.com.au> wrote:

> First
> prey items of
> newborns are often quite large in my experience (e.g. their
> siblings, in
> several species closely related to Tigers), which can be
> risky to subdue and
> swallow and hard work to digest, but gives them a good
> start in life. 

Eating siblings may be risky, but win or lose, that behavior is conserved. 
Rapid size increase and reduced exposure to predation might convey advantage 
over more well-behaved con-specifics that immediately go out into the world in 
search of an 'honest' meal...

> The
> importance of the very first meal is a reason why venomous
> snakes are
> born/hatch with plenty of venom, which may be more
> concentrated or different
> in composition to that of adults (not sure if composition
> difference is
> documented, Bryan Fry probably has looked into it).

Personal observation (and light reading) has convinced me that venom has 
survival importance as a part of the digestive process in the hemotoxic Eastern 
Diamondback rattlesnake. I have read that age correlated variations in venom 
are also documented in some NA vipers, although haven't read the primary lit.

This begs the question -- perhaps pre-digestion is a venom function in tigers 
as well, which would conserve venom-related morphs even where venom serves no 
purpose in food acquisition. And also leads to the prediction that venom 
composition in that scenario is skewed to tissue destructive components.