African Crested Rat

August 3, 2011 by staff 

African Crested RatAfrican Crested Rat, Oxford University zoologists have discovered a species of rat that protects slathering a poison so toxic it can kill an elephant, art, and hair hidden in his flank.

Zoologists, in collaboration with scientists from East Africa, found that African crested rat toxin used ouabain or “trees of the Poison Arrow.” The rat eats the bark, chew and slathers hair in a university news release said.

“These hairs are designed to quickly absorb poisonous mix, which act as a wick lamp”, Jonathan Kingdon, author of the paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, said in a statement.

The BBC reported that hunters to kill the elephants by coating their arrows hunting with him use the poison tree, known scientifically as Acokanthera schimperi.

Although it was known that rats can be poisonous, was due to reports of domestic dogs that are killed while trying to take a bite of rats, the scientists decided to investigate.

Kingdon told Wired that rodents, found in Kenya and the Horn of Africa, parts of the skin on your side when predators approach so they can see the model in black and white fence. The model, he said, is “almost like ‘daring’ to a predator to take a bite of these hairs poisoned.”

Ouabain venom contains a chemical that blocks a protein responsible for pumping sodium ions out of muscle cells, the magazine Discover. In doing so, the chemical causes the muscles to contract with unusual force, which caused a fatal heart attack.

Flank hairs seen under a microscope has small holes and filled with several thin fibers. They are sharp and pierce the mouth of an attacker. On the contrary, because the open structure, contact with the light is sufficient to discharge the poison in the mouth of the attacker.

Discover Kingdon said the animal’s stomach is exceptionally large and large salivary glands that can help process the poison from harming the rat.

Wired reports that scientists already know that ouabain at low doses can stimulate a weak heart, wants to study chemistry and genetics of the animal in the hope of finding new drugs for humans.

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