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October 2008 Editor's Note

Cobras, horned lizards and much more at the Nashville IHS.

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This year’s impressive roster of more than 20 speakers at the International Herpetological Symposium in Nashville, Tenn., covered many herp topics, including Egyptian tortoises, saw-scaled vipers, Tennessee salamanders, endangered amphibians and more. Keynote speakers were Wade Sherbrooke, Kevin Zippel and David Warrell.

Wade discussed how horned lizards have evolved as predators, as well as points (literally) that help them evade predation. Kevin explained the current crisis affecting amphibians and the “greatest species-conservation challenge in the history of mankind.” The Amphibian Ark was formed as a result, and Kevin discussed some of the group’s conservation efforts so far. David provided two highly informative and entertaining talks: “Scientific and Therapeutic Potential of Venom Toxins” and “Challenging Snakebite Cases in Five Continents.” The former focused on ways venom has been used to develop human medicines; the latter detailed case histories of several snakebite cases around the world (during this talk David threw in some good-natured jabs at speaker Donald Schultz, who had just finished showing the audience some pretty gross snakebite photos included in his talk about Swaziland).


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Banquet speaker Romulus Whitaker (July 2008’s “Who’s Who in REPTILES” subject) gave two talks. One was about his work with king cobras at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station in India. His banquet presentation was about gharials and the Gharial Conservation Alliance’s efforts to help them. Emeril Lagasse would have been envious of Rom’s cooking video showing how to make “snake soup” used for scenting rats destined to be cobra food — complete with Rom in chef’s whites and toque! Watch it at here.

Next year’s IHS will be in Monterrey, Mexico.