Pfefferi Toxicity?

Discussion in 'Physiology and Biology' started by jc45, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. jc45

    jc45 GPO Registered

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    I was looking for some information on cuttlefish and accidentally stumbled upon a wikipedia page that said flamboyant cuttles might have toxin in their muscles. It might explain the bright coloration... Anyone know anything about this, or is it just wiki-rubish?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuttlefish#_note-NOVA

    Joey
     
  2. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Not wiki rubbish, but no one here can find any papers about it. The only place that it looks like this has been mentioned was on the Nova program.
     
  3. jc45

    jc45 GPO Registered

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    Hmmmm... I looked into that nova program and it looks like Dr. Mark Norman of the Museum Victoria has been doing research on Metasepia pfefferi. He's the one who found the toxin. The transcript for the nova show is here:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/3404_camo.html

    I'll bet no one can find any papers on the cuttle toxin because it's such a new discovery. I guess I'll email Dr. Norman... hope he's not to busy to reply! I'll post it here if I get a response. If anyone has more information, feel free to share it here!

    Joey
     
  4. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    I see he (Mark Norman) says that the pajama squid is poisonous to humans too. This is new!!!

    J
     
  5. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    It is correct that the Nova special includes Mark Norman making this claim. As far as I've been able to tell, this has never been published in any scientific literature, though, and the Nova description is not very detailed and probably not that accurate. We have had several people who watched the Nova special decide that they are now experts, but as far as I can tell (and I've tried) there is no other information about this available. The wikipedia information is a fairly accurate representation of what Mark Norman said in the Nova interview, but I found that "it has a new toxin unrelated to anything we've seen before" and "metasepia toxin is more potent than blue ring toxin" to be somewhat at odds; unless they injected 10 rats each with equivalent amounts of TTX and Metasepia toxin and found that more rats died from the latter.

    I'm actually a bit concerned, since the show is very inconsistent about how much and what kind of toxin there may be, that this could lead to someone getting misinformation if they buy a Metasepia, since they do show up in the pet trade occasionally. I transcribed a bit of the Nova show's confusing information in this post:

    http://www.tonmo.com/community/index.php?threads/7489/#post-97832

    maybe I should go watch it again (I have it saved on the DVR) and transcribe the whole section. From my reading, Norman and the Nova narrators are claiming that in one Metasepia animal caught dramatically for the cameras, a potent toxin has been found in the musculature. This toxin is very deadly and unrelated to any other toxin ever studied. They describe that they tested the animal to look for toxins in the saliva and in other parts of the body, but then they say that they found it in the muscles. They didn't explicitly say that it couldn't be in other parts, too, so I don't think there is any reliable information from it about, for example, whether a bite from a Metasepia could cause a life-threatening reaction, although the clear message seems to be that eating its flesh is likely to cause a major problem.

    edit: the transcript is great, thanks for posting that. If you contact Dr. Norman about the details, it would be great if you could clear that up, and also the pajama squid, although I think the Metasepia is more immediately important, so that we can provide as accurate info as possible about the dangers should someone say "I just bought a Flamboyant Cuttlefish at my LFS." (I've never heard of a pajama squid in an LFS...)

    edit2: not that the Nova transcript does not say if the cuttle in which the toxin was found was Metasepia pfefferi or Metasepia tullbergi.
     
  6. Neogonodactylus

    Neogonodactylus Haliphron Atlanticus Staff Member Moderator

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    It is one thing to demonstrate that their is a toxin in the muscle and another to characterisze it sufficiently to publish. Also, Dr. Norman is working with a toxicology lab that is probably doing the chemical characterization. I suspect that he has gone as far as he can satisfying NOVA's desire to make a splash while still playing it conservative to deal with his colleagues. For what it is worth, he told me months ago that they have found a toxic cuttlefish, but played it close to the vest and didn't identify the species.

    I think most of us who have dealt with Metasepia suspected that they were toxic, but we didn't have the material and/or the lab to run the assays. I wonder how long it will before wunderpus and the mimic are ground up and assayed?

    Roy
     
  7. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Well most of these critters have flamboyant colourations for a reason!!

    J
     
  8. Michael Blue

    Michael Blue Wonderpus Registered

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    That's nice... :rolleyes: :lol:
     
  9. Steve O'Shea

    Steve O'Shea Colossal Squid Supporter

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    I've eaten the NZ equivalent Jean, the undescribed larger species we get (and you get off Otago also, extends down to Auckland Islands). I can't say that it was to my liking, but I certainly had no ill-effects from it (we cooked up ~ 50 one night).

    Terrible ay wot .... undescribed species and we ate the specimens. I've not done that since!
     
  10. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Reckon we've got one of those undescribed chappies in jar somewhere at the lab.............looks like S. pacifica only much bigger??? I think it was trawled up off Blueskin Bay.

    You must've been hungry :grin:

    J
     
  11. jc45

    jc45 GPO Registered

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    Don't they secrete some kind of mucous? Is that the toxic part?

    Joey
     

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