Snakes can starve while growing in length
Biologist Marshall Mackey (Marshall McCue ) from University of Arkansas (University of Arkansas ) undertook a study of the biological mechanism that enables some snakes to starve for up to two years.
For that, he spent 168 days observed 62 individuals of three snake species (distant relatives): Royal Python, white snake and Texas gramatnica.
Macku followed physiological, compositional and morphological changes of the snakes and found that snakes can reduce their metabolic rate by 72%! For this they use a special survival strategy in the absence of food, is not peculiar to any of vertebrates.
The rate at 72% is shocking, as “snakes and so consume little energy, and we still didn’t know how they manage to reduce energy consumption to such a low level”, ” says Marshall.
What’s even more amazing is the fact (also found by Makku) that snakes on loss from 9.3% to 24.4% of initial body weight continued to grow in length (especially increased size of the head – just like those snakes).
Day 168 to study rattlesnakes showed a record decline in the intensity of metabolism. He was only 28 per cent. Snakes reduced the metabolism to the bar in 55%. At the same time, the pythons, the maximum decrease in the intensity of metabolism to a level of 59% the researchers observed already on day 112 of experience, and then he partially recovered (up to 77% of normal level)
«larger bone of the head allow snakes to expand the circle of potential victims”, ” explains Mackey, because snakes can’t chew and swallow prey whole.
«I believe that the growth of the head and body length is a significant advantage, which was fixed the serpent to the process of natural selection”, ” adds Mackey.
According to scientists, snakes appeared relatively recently, only 100 million years ago, and sometimes they had to withstand long periods of starvation (because of their wait-and-see strategy of hunting or mass death of animals), while now they account for nearly half of all reptiles.
Snakes have developed an effective strategy for the consumption of very limited resources. So, first they break down intestinal fat, then fat tissues of the liver, and then in the course is… the heart muscle.
First, Macku confused “destruction” of the heart, but then he found out that at the first meal of the heart is restored.
In addition, Mackey found that different species of snakes in different ways to adapt to a forced hunger strike. For example, the runners began the process of consumption “domestic supply” earlier pythons and rattlesnakes, probably due to the fact that in nature they have more available victims (various rodents), and they have less to starve.
By the way, in one of the Tokyo zoo snake, despite the forced diet, made friends with the hamster .
We talked about other extraordinary snakes and their abilities. For example, the snake-chameleon. blind and the first snake on the planet (and a little earlier the lizard-snake ), serpent green. which in childhood, is yellow and red, and more of the winged serpents.