Nature...Evolution...always Wonderful and often Weird

A few of the tricksters

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The hideous (except to mum) angler fish with lure extendedDeadly Cantil with worm-like tail lureKitty, kitty!  The MargayThe Viper's spider tail lureSnapping turtle...can bite your hand off!
The hideous (except to mum) angler fish with lure extended
The hideous (except to mum) angler fish with lure extended | Source
Deadly Cantil with worm-like tail lure
Deadly Cantil with worm-like tail lure | Source
Kitty, kitty!  The Margay
Kitty, kitty! The Margay | Source
The Viper's spider tail lure
The Viper's spider tail lure | Source
Snapping turtle...can bite your hand off!
Snapping turtle...can bite your hand off! | Source


Some hubbers and visitors may be aware that this writer is fascinated by the world of arachnids - spider, etc., as well as that of the venomous reptiles of the planet, our gorgeous snakes.
So coming across the story of the protagonist in today's 'creature-feature,' the "Spider-Tailed Horned Viper," (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) caused a fevered brow and the shout of 'Eureka!'
Many predators use a lure which is part of their bodies to lure prey to within reach of snapping jaws - the Angler Fish is a standout example. (see below). And in several species of snake, evolution has modified the scales near the tail to perhaps fool insect eating birds to approach close enough for the snake to successfully strike and devour its prey.
But none has been gifted with such a realistic 'lure' as the spider-tailed viper. In fact, it could easily fool a passing human into trying to catch the 'spider,' but that would be foolish as the snake has a nasty venom and a lightning strike lasting 2/10 of a second; it would take umbrage at your pinching of its tail!. Over the millenia, the snake has modified scales at the tip of its tail, plus features a grey 'blob' like the body of many spiders.
Only discovered and filmed convincingly recently, the viper is a native of Western Iran, home to a dozen venomous snakes.
Luring Prey (Caudal Luring).
Of the more interesting creatures which have developed this cunning way to hunt, the North American Aligator Snapping Turtle, is one of the best known. This 100 pound monster has a tongue or which the tip resembles a wiggling worm. It rests on the bottom of rivers and lakes with its huge mouth open and its 'worm' frantically wiggling until prey swims into its mouth and the powerful jaws close like a steel trap.
The above mentioned angler fish has a modified dorsal spine extending upwards from huge jaws (it must easily win a prize as the ugliest fish in the sea!). On the tip of the spine is a bulb containing luminous bacteria which is attractive to the angler's prey who swim in and "Slam!" That's all she wrote, folks. Interestingly, the rest of the fish is so well camoflaged only the lure can be seen.
We have a bird - the Green Heron - who has learned to drop small twigs, etc., into the water. Fish swimming up to investigate are met by a spear like beak as the heron completes the drama.
Assassin bugs have the trick of tapping on a spider's web until the resident shuffles over for a meal, only to become dinner herself, a victim of the assassin's superior mandible power.
Mexico's very nasty, venom-wise, the Cantil Horned Viper, related to North America's Copperhead, has what appears to be a wiggly worm at the tip of it's rear end. With a mind-numbing speedy strike, any prey creature investigating is soon incapacitated by the snake's venom and devoured.
The beautiful Margay Cat of Mexico and Central America has learned to imitate the sound made by a distressed baby monkey. Mum hastening to the rescue becomes the Margay's lunch.
Even the Jaguar of the Central and South American jungles has leaned to employ both ends when hunting. Jaguars (who, incidently, have a bite more powerful that an African lioness!) flick the water with the tip of their tail and scoop any marine creature investigating out of the water with their 2-inch dagger- like claws.
And there are many more, but none found to date has a lure quite as realistic as the Iranian Spider-Tailed Horned Viper.
Nature...Evolution...An absolute marvel.

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Comments 11 comments

Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 2 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

Hi Bob! Say, did you eve stop to think that men might have developed a "lure" of sorts with a certain appendage of their own? LOL

That snapping turtle is a beast. And I wouldn't want a cat that can kill monkeys. Ugh.

Just too many things that are weird in nature.

How was the trip to Mexico?


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Good to see you, Bob!

The sheer complexity of nature's many wonders make me doubt that it could all have happened just by chance and natural selection. What are the odds?

I see a guiding hand.

Fascinating as always!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

Being well familiar with the Alligator Snapping turtle I thought--very common in this neck of the woods--I'd forgotten they used their tongues as lures to attract a meal. I too find serpents and spiders fascinating as well as beautiful, creatures.

As a firm believer in evolution--the survival of the fittest--I really enjoyed reading this article, Bob.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 2 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Lela: Yes...I used to have one!.

I leave for Mexico Oct 25th.

Bob x


diogenes profile image

diogenes 2 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Will...the guiding hand...that frightens me more than the thought of a random universe!

Nice to see ya Will

Bob


diogenes profile image

diogenes 2 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Cheers Randy. Those toitles are like mobile gin traps...lottsa power

Bob


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 2 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

Bob, you are so funny! I know we would really get along. It's like having two Bob's in my life!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

Bob, I've actually eaten some fried snapping turtle before. It tasted like the best fried chicken I've ever had, even my mamma's!! And that's saying something..


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 2 months ago from Sydney

I've seen one of those turtles. Some idiot stole some baby ones from a reptile park near Sydney in 1979 - no one knew what had happened until one turned up near where I lived in 2000! By that time it weighed 55 lb.

I can imagine it was tasty. Did you know that's why so many of the species of turtle/tortoise on the Galapagos are extinct? They were delicious and passing ships would pick them up for food.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

Yes Marisa, the same happened to lots of gopher tortoises during the Great Depression. We have five ponds on our farm and all of them have snapping turtles in them. Some reach 50 lbs. or more.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 2 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

I'm sure turtle tastes great. But for some reason, there are just some forms of meat that I cannot bring myself to eat. Turtle is one of them. Lamb is another.

But I can eat the hell out of conch and shrimp!

Isn't it funny how our mind plays tricks on us?

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