Bizarre Newt Uses Ribs as Weapons

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The Spanish ribbed newt has a pretty bizarre defense mechanism - when attacked, it secretes poison and pushes out its ribs until they pierce its skin, creating a row of sharp bones that act like barbs:

The newt has to force its bones through its skin every time it is attacked, say scientists, who have described the form and function of the barbs in detail. [...]

When the newt becomes agitated or perceives a threat, it swings its ribs forward, increasing their angle to the spine by up to 50 degrees.

As it does this, the newt keeps the rest of its body still.

"The forward movement of the ribs increases the body size and stretches the skin to the point of piercing it," says zoologist Egon Heiss of the University of Vienna in Austria.

The tips of the newt's ribs then stick outside its body, like exposed spines.

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From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by dangana.


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