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UnDisciplined: rattlesnakes have a genetically diverse venom toolbox to keep up with evolving prey

M. Maggs

Evolutionary arms races are a fascinating thing. As a predator evolves, its prey does too and then the race is on to evolve again. Now, generally, it's thought that hunters have to evolve newer and better tools to keep up. A new study suggests that might not be what rattlesnakes do. Instead, they reach into a toolbox that already has everything they need to adapt, overcome, and eat well.

Drew Schield is a quantitative biologist and research fellow at the University of Colorado where he studies the ways in which genes impact the never ending battle to remain fit for an ever changing world.

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Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling <i>Lifespan</i> with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning <i>Longevity Plan</i> with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, <i>Superlative</i>, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.<br/>