Dr. Westley said, "The general principles are quite easy, Ben. If you are a snail or lizard or some other helpless creature without massive teeth and claws to defend yourself, you may want to incorporate into your flesh some sort of toxin which would persuade your larger predators to not eat you. Usually these animals are brightly colored. It would not do, in the general scheme of things, to have the predators die without knowing why."
"And bright coloring is a way of advertising that they are poisonous?"
"Quite. All manner of reptiles do it. In fact, I have read of the recent discovery of a poisonous bird ... in New Guinea. It is called the pitohui, and it has distinctive orange and black plumage. Ingestion of only 100 milligrams of it's breast flesh is sufficient to kill a mouse in twenty minutes, the article said. The toxic principle is called homobatrachotoxin. It's a steroid alkaloid, a non-protein toxin."
"A good fraction of the molecules found in plants are put there for the express purpose of keeping the plants from being eaten out of existence. Foxglove is an excellent example...."
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