Russians create artificial human brain

maxwell mmmaxwell at
Fri Apr 20 09:39:38 EST 2001

Luke Campbell <lwcamp at> wrote in message
news:3ADF48E9.1A47BE65 at
> 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.
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
> prey.  The toxicity of garter snake saliva varies considerably from
region to
> region.  Most are harmless.
 I also noticed that most people cannot tell venomous snakes from
> Luke

Thank you for this most fascinating news of your injury, Luke, and for
the good woods lore advice you offered.
I take issue with the ecological/evolutinary explanation, however.
Since there is variation in toxicity in the snake populations, to say
that the endogenous population has evolved toxicity in respect to its
vole prey is too much of a 'just so' story of natural selection. Other
than the more obvious note of the teleological cast to the tale of
'having evolved toxic saliva,' rather than the more parsimonious
explanation of those more-toxic variants having parlayed such a
food-competion advantage as to dominate the niche occupied by garter
snakes in the locale where you were bitten, we could just as well
postulate a 'founder effect' wherein more toxic variants come to
establish a niche in a region where garter snakes previously were not

You've supplied all of this excellent info., of course, and my
objection is really to the teleological presumption.
We can blame Aristotle for this, with perhaps a touch of Dr. Pangloss,
for good measure. <g>


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