Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Siargao Pythons

Python skull, Siargao, PhilippinesI am running out of things to say about my life; it's a wee bit humdrum, so:

About two years ago, I started a temporary zoo of local animals and featured some of the photos I took in my website section on Early Human Diet.

That shows the obvious fact that along shorelines from East Africa to right out to here, the mammals and reptiles are very much the same.

See mammals here and this particular species of reptile here.

My first python died, before I could even get him home.

He'd been attacked by a bunch of local timber-stealers, and was moribund when we found him. He died, and decayed, on the 4 hour trip home, and we couldn't even recover his beautiful skin, that had been hacked around by the timber-stealers' machetes.

But we did render down his skull:

As you can see, he had vicious, back hooked, and very sharp teeth.

It was a bit too much trouble to reconstruct the bones. If we had, we would have demonstrated the very flexibleskull structure of the snake, with the bones joined by cartilage and sinew, and not rigidly fused together.

This allows the snake to stretch its jaws to the maximum when trying to swallow anything large. The back-hooked teeth ensure that anything it is trying to swallow has great difficulty in getting out again.

Pythons are not poisonous, but are not very friendly either. If you get a body part into a python's jaws, it's very difficult to get it out again.

Besides which, their 'wrapping muscles' are really, very very strong.

My second python was brought to me from Consuelo, just up the way, where it was caught trying to cross the (only) road.

He's the fellow shown top right. Only about 3 feet long, but he definitely didn't have a 'good' character.

I f***ed up the photo just following that, because he suddenly attacked, and I panicked. (I'd already been through the problem of taking him out of his chicken-coop, and having him wrap around my lower arm while he proceeded to bite my thumb).

After that insult to my hospitality (I had local kids bringing rats and mice for his dinner) I took him back to another jungle village and let him go.

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