Thursday, October 15, 2009

Momma Was a Newt and Daddy Was a Weasel

Findings from the scientific community are leading some (mostly me) to wonder if perhaps legendary X-Man Wolverine might be half newt. That would certainly explain the fast healing, super immune system, and bone protrusion, although the abundant body hair is distinctly mammalian.

Pictured above: potential Wolverine genetic tree. Dare we wonder?

In 1879 a natural historian first noticed that Spanish ribbed newts (AKA sharp-ribbed newts) can use their ribs as a defense mechanism, piercing their bones through their skin to form super-sharp spines. More recently, Austrian scientists using scanning technology revealed that the newts are actually rotating their ribs forward up to fifty degrees away from their normal position against the spine.

The holes heal quickly thanks to fast regeneration, and a highly advanced immune system keeps the wounds from becoming infected. As far as researchers can tell, the newts are not particularly bothered by the protrusion of their ribs, despite needing to tear new holes each time.

The newts also have a secret weapon (as though concealed rib-shivs weren't enough). When the ribs protrude, the newts' skin secretes a poisonous substance that can cause severe pain, or even death, for the unlucky predator that tries to chomp down on it. Maybe this one skips a generation.

While the newt pictured above appears to be simply stretching its back, it is actually about to kick your ass. Arrows are pointing to the ends of ribs that are tearing through the skin.

"The combination of the poisonous secretion and the ribs as 'stinging' tools is highly effective," says Egon Heiss of the University of Vienna. The newts themselves seem to be immune to the poison, reabsorbing it once the threat is neutralized.

Scientists speculate that the rib-weapon mutation may be an adaptation that came from a more common lizard tendency: chest-puffing. Many salamanders have an ability to expand their ribs, puffing up to look larger and hopefully deter predators. The rib-joint mechanism for puffing-up is similar to that of the Spanish ribbed newts, suggesting an evolutionary relationship.

At the time of this writing, Zu's News is not aware of any studies done on the potential for wolverine-newt hybridization.

We were unable to find the original study to provide for our dear readers, but you can click here for Google's findings on this topic.

All drawings are (obviously) original creations and are the property of Zu's News. Images may not be reproduced without express permission from Zu's News, although you could just draw something better yourself.


  1. This is an awesome article. Keep up the great work.

  2. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing. Now I want to learn more about it.