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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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It's Reptile Time
27 November 2000 7:00 pm
Just about everyone is familiar with the plight of amphibians, which researchers fear are in worldwide decline due to pollution and habitat destruction. But what about reptiles? The scaly ones have been badly ignored, herpetologists and other researchers claimed at a forum earlier this month at the meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Nashville.
"Reptiles are underrated and underexplored," says J. Whitfield Gibbons, a herpetologist at the University of Georgia, Athens. "Even biologists aren't that familiar with them." Bill Hopkins of the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, who is studying the effect of pollutants on aquatic snakes, agrees. "Of the thousands of studies on vertebrates in toxicology, less than 1% are on reptiles," Hopkins says--even though turtles, snakes, lizards, and crocodilians make up 20% of vertebrate species. Noteworthy exceptions are studies of pollution-caused alterations of sex hormones in alligators of Florida's Lake Apopka and effects of organic contaminants on snapping turtles around the Great Lakes.
Scientists are now pushing for more attention to reptiles. Some species of turtles and crocodiles live up to 60 years, so they could yield valuable information on cumulative exposure to toxins, Hopkins says. But they're harder to sample because they don't tend to congregate during breeding, and many live underground. At this point, says Hopkins, "we really don't know anything about their responses to contaminants."