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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Every living creature that exists on a given Continent (prior to us human animals transporting "aliens"into the biotic mix) has a purpose for being and is interconnected into the fabric of the natural systems where they are found..............While so many of us fear Rattlesnakes, they are excellent rodent killers(reduce lyme disease ticks) and "seed farmers"......... "Cornell University Researchers have discovered that the seeds in the guts of the rodents that snakes eat sprout in the snake's colon and then are "planted" across each snakes territory via their feces droppings"........... "Since Rattlesnakes can’t digest seeds themselves, they protect the seeds from being digested by their rodent prey"............."And since they can travel five to 10 times farther than known seed dispersers such as kangaroo rats (Dipodomys) or pocket mice (Chaetodipus), Rattlesnakes are one of the elite seed dispersers in the animal kingdom, encouraging biodiversity to flower wherever they are found"-----As our eminent 20th Century biologist Aldo Leopold stated so succinctly: “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: 'What good is it?

Rattlesnakes may be overlooked seed dispersers

By Dana Kobilinsky; Feb 23, 2018

When researchers were looking at the digestive tracts of three desert-dwelling rattlesnake species to learn about their diets, they were surprised to find little black dots in the upper intestine of one snake under a microscope.
Those dots turned out to be seeds. Since seeds are not part of the snakes’ natural diet, researchers realized, they were likely from the rodents they were consuming.
A Sonoran sidewinder rattlesnake consumes a kangaroo rat. Researchers found snakes can disperse seeds that the rats were storing in their cheeks. ©Wouter Kok

Even more intriguing, some of the seeds were about to sprout in the snake’s colon — the last place the food travels before becoming waste. Could rattlers — which can travel five to 10 times farther than known seed dispersers such as kangaroo rats (Dipodomys) or pocket mice (Chaetodipus) — be dispersing seeds, too, only through their feces?
“We were super excited,” said Harry Greene, a Professor Emeritus of ecology and evolution biology at Cornell University and co-author of a recent study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“We had the natural history to prove this does happen in nature,” said Greene, noting a past experiment that showed that feeding captive African snakes fruit resulted in seeds in their feces.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

In their study, Greene and his colleagues examined 50 snake specimens including sidewinders (Crotalus cerastes), Mojave rattlesnakes (Crotalus scutulatus) and speckled rattlesnakes (Crotalus mitchellii) from the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at University of California at Berkeley. They found rodent remains in 45 of them, and 970 seeds in the snakes’ digestive systems. In a number of the specimens, seeds were already germinating in the colons.
The rattlers not only dispersed the seeds, Greene said. Since they can’t digest the seeds themselves, they protected the seeds from being digested by their rodent prey.

Eastern Timber Rattlesnake

It’s just another example of the important role snakes play in their ecosystem, Greene said. Like pollinators, he said, they provide ecosystem services for people and for other species.
The research is also an example of paying attention to new discoveries when conducting research, Greene said. When his team opened up snake digestive tracts, they had no plan to study seed dispersal, he said, and no idea they were about to make such a new discovery.
“There are all these secrets still out there and unknown things about nature,” Greene said. “As much as modern science is driven by testing hypotheses, it’s also driven by discovery of unexpected phenomena.”
Dana Kobilinsky is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at with any questions or comments about her article.

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