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Announcing Sacred Mounds, a novel of Magical Realism and Historical Fantasy from Jim Metzner, with a foreword by Hutke Fields, principal chief of the Natchez Nation.
Cyclonic hordes of insects, a telepathic despot, body-swapping sex - just a few of the surprises Salvador Samuels encounters when he is swept back to pre-colonial times, walking in the moccasins of a blind Indian - who, in turn, has been transported into Salvador's body in present-day America. Sacred Mounds Book Cover Four hundred years apart, they are bound by a mission to rescue our world, aided by the mysterious presence of the mounds. Thousands of these ancient earthworks once dotted the landscape of North America. We still don't know why they were created. Sacred Mounds suggests they are as important today as when they were made over a thousand years ago. Sacred Mounds weaves the stories of two men, each a stranger in a strange land. With the help of two remarkable women, they must find a way to save our planet and return home.
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Snakes and Newts - A Deadly Secret: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: May 04, 2017
Scientist: Joel Mcglothlin

Snakes and Newts - A Deadly Secret

Snakes and Newts - A Deadly Secret
Very few critters can have newts for breakfast and live to have lunch.

Snakes and Newts A Deadly Secret

Eye of newt and toe of frog that's part of the witches brew in Macbeth. And when it comes to newts, Shakespeare was on to something. Boil a newt and you've got a poison that's deadly to humans. It turns out that there is an animal who can chow down on newts with impunity. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

McGlothlin: Newts have a toxin called tetrodotoxin in their skin that helps defend them from predators.

Joel McGlothlin is an assistant professor of biology at Virginia Tech.

McGlothlin: Most predators when they eat a newt are going to die, because the toxin will block certain proteins in their body that allow their nerves and their muscles to work. And so they'll become paralyzed and in some cases die. This toxin basically binds into the proteins like a cork in a bottle.

Some populations of garter snakes have evolved the ability to withstand the newt's poison.

McGlothlin: The reason that snakes are able to withstand the toxin is that their proteins have changed just a little bit. It's like the shape of the bottle has changed just a little bit, so that the cork doesn't fit anymore.

It's not only witches who find poisonous newts useful.

McGlothlin: The newt's toxin, tetrodotoxin, is something that neuroscientists use all the time in order to understand how our nervous system works. They use it as a tool to be able to block certain nerves, and they're able to measure currents in certain places because they block currents in other places.
A lot of pain medications work in the same way that the newt toxin does. Understanding the way newt toxins interact with snake proteins may help us discover new medications that we could potentially use in humans.

I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.