Jen’s Tar Pit: News in the Reptile World

Jan 15, 2015
The Reptile Report
by Jennifer Greene

The Reptile Report - If you didn’t know already, sometimes, hemipenal differences are what’s used to determine the differences between species.  In one of the first studies of penis evolution, a team of researchers chose to measure the hemipenes of 25 species of anoles.  They discovered quite a range of variation in the hemipenes of these anoles, and after some math to determine the rate of evolution, realized that lizard penises were changing at a rate 6 times faster than other externally visible sex characteristics.

To read the theories on why this is (one of which is the thought that females are selecting males with the most pleasing penises), click here to check out the full article:  Lizard Penises Evolve at Super Speeds

Not directly related to reptiles, but an interesting study on deworming programs in humans and animals has determined there may be some unwanted side effects.   This study focused on the impact of deworming wild populations to reduce bovine tuberculosis, which helped reduce individual deaths, but “hugely increased the potential for spread of the disease to other animals”.  Reptiles aren’t cows, but it’s an interesting idea to consider in relation to wild populations or large captive colonies housed in farming conditions.  Read the full article here.

Back to reptiles, the Genetics Society of America has found some interesting differences in the evolutionary patterns of some Florida venomous snake species.  While diamondback rattlesnake venom varies between populations, with those in the Everglades having distinctly different venom from the same species found in the panhandle region of Florida, coral snakes found throughout the state do not have distinct differences in venom makeup.  This breakthrough will help in antivenom development for coral snakes, as well as provide information to aid in rattlesnake conservation.  Read the full article here.

Popular video on is of a couple of large tortoises, with one seemingly helping the other, and many viewers excitedly describing how cute of the one to help flip the other over.  The dark truth?  These two tortoises are likely combating males fighting over territory or a mate, and are in fact trying to drive each other out of the space.  The tortoise didn’t help his bud out; in trying to head butt him to go away, he simply happened to flip his enemy back over.  Video here. 

Lastly, to sum up the week of reptiles in popular media, sigh heavily with me as you check out the exotic pets favored by The People of Walmart.  Do us a favor…and don’t take your pets to Walmart.  You may be excited about the potential to educate others, but while you may talk to a handful of people about your reptiles, you can’t combat the person sneaking a picture of you to mock you and your pets online.  Consider the unintentional impact irresponsibly taking your pets out in public can have – it’s not just about you, it’s about the entire hobby.  Don’t be one of The People of Walmart.

Have some articles you’d like to share with the Tar Pit?  Comment on the Dino Diet Facebook page, the Reptile Report Facebook page, or tag Jen on Twitter or Instagram with #TotallyTarPit!

Your friendly neighborhood dinosaur in disguise,
Tyrannosaurus Jen