Drhoz! (drhoz) wrote in wtf_nature,


Jackalope - a fictional cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope. As such, up there with the Drop bear, the Wild Haggis and probably the Giant Highland Spider too

Only it's not quite fictional...

title or description

This is a bunny infected with the Shope Papillomavirus - and this is quite a mild case. Sometimes (as you'll see if you click on the image) the growths point down from the mouth as well, giving the appearance of fangs and thus going a good way towards giving us a fictional Wolpertinger as well.

The Shope Papillomavirus was the first virus proved to cause cancer in mammals. Most bunnies get over it, because the tumours in the photo above are only temporary. In humans, unfortunately, papillomaviruses can be indirectly lethal...

Papillomaviruses in general are quite interesting, biologically. They infect only surface tissues. They're also highly diverse. There's over a hundred varieties that infect humans, for example - but only humans. Other species have their own (None are known to infect lab mice, which makes studying them quite difficult. They ARE known from the intriguingly named African Multimammate Rat). Oddly, these viruses seem to be very conservative, evolving slowly, with very few of them capable of jumping species (one species from cow to horse, one possible but unproven chimp-zoo keeper). This may be because they have a double-strand DNA that uses your own error-checking capabilities during copying. And most of the time you won't even know that they're there. Quite a few of them can cause warts - but your skin or eyelash follicles can be infected with the same virus and nothing will happen.

Others, unfortunately, trigger cancer.

Bovine Papilloma Virus Type 1, for example, causes sarcoid tumours in horses. And Human Papilloma Viruses 16 and 18 (and almost a dozen others) are a sexually transmitted, and the major, cause of cervical cancer (and several others including penile, and neck. I wonder about the neck one myself). The viruses trigger tumours because one of their genes is designed to suppress tumor suppressor protein p53.
Tags: african multimammate rat, cancer, jackalope, papillomavirus, parasite, shope papillomavirus, wolpertinger

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded