Snake lightning bites are a great way to inject poison into your prey. Helping and betting on this violent attack is the evolution of long, bent-tusk snakes to poison their next meal. Toxins can hurt, incapacitate, or kill victims. But which came first: poison or fangs?
Unlike the fangs of other animals Snake The tusks are highly adapted to function as a toxin delivery system.For example, many Other fang animals, Like wolves and cats, use their fangs to stab and tear meat. However, Alessandro Pulch, a researcher at Flinders University’s Faculty of Science and Technology in Australia, who specializes in paleontology and evolution, said that snake tusks have side grooves or complete dents in their teeth, poisoning their prey. Said to help inject.
Pulch and his team published a recent study on snake tusks in the journal. Bulletin of the Royal Society B: Biological Science August 2021. The research team dismembered how the snake’s special venom-delivering teeth evolved.
Related: Can humans have poison?
Poisonous fangs first developed as grooves at the base of snake teeth. Researchers have found that these grooves probably evolved to secure the teeth firmly to the jaw, as snake teeth usually have very shallow roots. According to Pulch, these wrinkled grooves, called prismidentins, increase the surface area that attaches to the jaw.
Fangs developed from these wrinkles on the teeth, according to Pulch’s team who studied 3D. microCT Images of 19 snake and 3 lizard tusks, and a thin slide made from several specimens. These ditches were found in all species studied by scientists (poisonous and non-poisonous, fang- and non-poisonous). This indicates that it is most likely to occur in non-poisonous ancestral snake species. Researchers have found that venomous snakes have adopted these existing ditches to deliver poison to their prey.
“The special thing about fanged snakes is that their teeth show much larger and deeper’wrinkles’,” Pulch said. “When one of these wrinkles grows larger than the other, a groove is formed along the tooth.”
This groove shepherds toxic liquid to its prey from nearby venom glands while the snake bites. “The simplest poisonous fangs have only shallow grooves on the surface,” Pulch told Live Science in an email, but these grooves are much more efficient at injecting poison than hard teeth.
“For more advanced snakes (eg vipers and cobras), the groove deepens to the point where its edges meet, sealing the groove and forming a hollow tubular structure that resembles a syringe needle,” Pulch said. rice field. “These grooves have been selected for millions of years evolution This is to make a large and very efficient syringe-like fang. “
So which one came first? “The poison is believed to have appeared very quickly in a mild form to the common ancestors of snakes and some lizards (a group called Toxicofera),” Pulch said. “Therefore, poisonous fangs evolved after the poison was already present. The presence of poison may have been an important prerequisite for the evolution of poisonous fangs.”
Snakes are very unique in the evolution of these special fangs. “Poisonous fangs haven’t evolved much outside of snakes,” Pulch said. However, snakes have found them very useful, different species of snakes have independently evolved poisonous tusks from Prisidentin over and over again.
Here are some interesting examples of the few other animals that have developed poisonous fangs:
- A small group of mammals digging holes in the Caribbean Solenodon It looks like a chunky shrews.
- Small fish called IsoginpoUse their fangs to administer a painless poison that lowers the blood pressure of the victim.
- Ancient extinct reptiles called Uachitodon, Known only by the discovery of their teeth.
Originally published in Live Science.
Which came first: Snake fangs or poison?
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