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Deborah Hutchison, a research scientist at Old Dominion University, is quoted in the Oct. 13, 2007, issue of Science News magazine in a story about snakes that earn their dinner by overcoming the natural defenses of frogs.

Hutchinson was the subject of international publicity herself last year when she reported research findings about a Japanese snake that eats toxic frogs and recycles the toxins for its own protection.

The latest research is by Australian scientists who have identified a poisonous snake in their country that will give a poisonous frog a fatal bite, but then wait nearly an hour before eating the prey to give the frogs' toxins time to degrade. The same snake wastes no time in gobbling up the non-poisonous frogs that it catches.

Hutchinson notes in the article that the snake's delaying tactic should be "much easier to evolve than physiological resistance to the effects of the toxins" that other snakes have.

The highly publicized paper written by Hutchinson, a postdoctoral researcher the ODU Department of Biological Sciences, together with her mentor, Alan Savitzky, professor of biological sciences, appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The story was picked up in The New York Times, Science magazine, National Geographic magazine and many other publications.

This article was posted on: October 26, 2007

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