A couple of the Reaseheath Herpetological and Entomological Society (RHES) members attended the monthly SciBar gathering in Liverpool. Held at The Ship and Mitre pub on Tuesday the 3rd of March, this meeting hosted Kevin Arbuckle, evolutionary biologist from the University of Liverpool. Kevin gave a talk on Telling Toxic Tales: Chemical Warfare in Animal Evolution. The talk described many of different varieties of venoms and poisons that are out there in the wild. Also described were the different methods of not only obtaining these toxins, but the various methods of delivery used by a wide range of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates as well as the select few mammal and bird species which use venoms or poison to their advantage.
He went on to discuss how species that obtain venom in their evolutionary history have never been shown to lose it; in most cases they actually increase their toxicity levels. He presented a method of visualising the effect the venom has on a species population numbers with an highly detailed equation that takes into account many different factors affecting survival. He then finished on the point that the majority of species that have either developed venom are those most prone to being in population decline due to the intense energy output in order to develop these venoms.
RHES Committee Member