Russians create artificial human brain

Luke Campbell lwcamp at u.washington.edu
Thu Apr 19 15:22:01 EST 2001


satchi wrote:

> North Carolina has the honor of having almost every poisonous
> snake indigenous to the Eastern United States and I've had run
> ins with most of them.  Coming from New England I didn't have a
> fear of poisonous snakes and shortly after moving down here I
> happened to see a rather innocuous looking little snake in
> someone's back yard.  I bent over to pick it up, thinking it was
> a garter snake and thankfully someone stopped me and asked why
> anyone in their right mind would attempt to pick up a copperhead.
> I told him I was a fundamentalist and so he just backed away and
> I didn't look quite as stupid as I felt.

I, on the other hand, was actually envenomated by a garter snake.  Yup, those
harmless little yellow lined greyish black snakes that like nothing better to
do than cruise around your back yard, eating slugs and earthworms.  It was
venomous.  It bit me.  My hand swelled up and turned all sorts of funky
colors for a few days.  Don't believe me?  The case is published in the
Journal of Clinical Toxicology, author one Darwin Vest, a graduate student at
the local university doing research on garter snake toxicity who couldn't
believe his luck that some stupid kid actually got nailed by one of the
little beasties.  I was only the second person on record to have ever been
envenomated by a garter snake (and the first guy declined to be
interviewed).  It seems that the wandering garter snakes (Thamnophis elegrans
vagrans) in the Palouse region eat more medow voles than most other
populations, and have been evolving toxic slaiva to help them subdue their
prey.  The toxicity of garter snake saliva varies considerably from region to
region.  Most are harmless.  I have probably been bitten by hundreds of
garter snakes from the same population (a consequence of catching reptiles as
a hobby), and only ever had a reaction to that one, and I survived without
any permanent damage, so there is no real need to worry about the
neighborhood garter snakes posing a threat to you or your children or your
pets.

I also noticed that most people cannot tell venomous snakes from harmless
snakes.  They'll call the darndest things "highly venomous copperheads" (or
water moccasins).  Rattlesnakes are often easier to recognize, but a failed
identification of a rattlesnake is often only done post mortem (for the
snake, that is, as in "Geez, the critter ain't got rattles after all.  Must'a
just been a bull snake").  Chances are the little snake you almost picked up
actually was harmless.  A good field guide should be able to help you
distinguish the harmless critters from those that are best left alone,
although the true water moccasins are often difficult to distinguish from
some of the local water snakes at first glance.

Luke




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