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A newt!

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sussexecology View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sussexecology Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Feb 2012 at 1:42pm

Very true, and another reason why GCN are warty, and the other newts aren't.

I heard somewhere that the white spots on GCN are also a warning sign, but not sure whether that is true or not. Usually, it is a bright colour that is a warning sign to predators.

Never tasted GCN poison so can't really comment on that one noddles Smile

but thanks for the warning on the effects and what it's like. Smile


Edited by sussexecology - 25 Feb 2012 at 9:49pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Caleb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2012 at 10:52am
Originally posted by Noodles Noodles wrote:

In Malcom Smith's 'British Reptiles and Amphibians' he refers to one of those fantastically Victorianesque experiments in which a cat was fed GCN; the result was much frothing at the mouth and nashing of teeth.


Not just the cat- the experimenter tried it herself.

You can read a transcript of the original paper at http://www.caudata.org/triturus/ormerod.html - it's absolutely fantastic.

GCN toxicity is nothing compared to some American newts- there's been at least one human fatality from a Taricha species.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noodles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2012 at 12:39pm
I would love to have been a fly living on that laboratory wall, fantastically entertaining stuff!
Cheers for that Caleb
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2012 at 3:41pm
I wonder if the white spots on GCN or GWN as Eleanor would have preferred, mimic the white exudation? It's a thought isn't it that any animal chewing on one and seeing the exudation might then avoid one with white spots.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2012 at 5:42pm
I reckon you might have something there, Gemma - nice deduction!  I've always thought it might help GCN to detect each other in murky water, as the tail flash on the male is very conspicuous, but those speckles look just like the toxins emerging from the warts on the animal.  Monograph, maybe?!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2012 at 7:00pm
Well I suppose Will if Eleanor can write a Monograph on sucking newts I ought to write one regarding the white spots mimicking exudation Big smile. I'll just have to borrow my neighbours cats for a few days and get a black marker pen...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sussexecology Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2012 at 11:13pm
I saw your post at earlier Gemma, and would agree with you on that one.
Is a nice twist to the white spots on a GCN.
 
Oh boy, next time i see a male GCN and look at those white spots, I will be thinking of your comments Gemma. Smile
 
I might try the same thing too with my own cat, who is white with blobs of brown/black so I might "add" some more black spots on her and see if anything happens. Let me know how you get on with your cat for sure!
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sussexecology Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2012 at 11:19pm
Will,
 
had the same thought the other night
 
If i was a GCN and wanted to warn off predators, wouldn't the bright colours on the underside (or the blobs underneath or the warty skin) be of more value to a GCN than the white spots.....
 
The white flash in the tail, i believe is used in courtship displays
Correct me if I am wrong.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Feb 2012 at 6:57am
I'm sure the aposematic colouration on the belly would have an effect when a terrestrial predator turns the newt over - as well as when seen from below in the water.  Also GCN can do that 'unkenreflex' thing where they raise their head and tail to show a flash of the belly patterning when threatened by a predator.  My reference to the tail flash was just to make the point that this is often a characteristic which is visible even in murky water, but it is purely a sexual selection device and not a warning (in fact it makes male GCN more conspicuous to predators in shallow ponds, I guess.)
 
Thinking more about this, white speckles are diagnostic of several species of European crested newt, but tend to be rarer in the Italian crested newt Triturus carnifex, which, as far as I know, has the same level of toxic skin secretions as our GCN, so maybe it does serve to help newts with interspecific recognition after all...  nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems in these kinds of 'why does an animal have this feature?' debates, I suppose.
 
Cheers
 
Will 
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