This article was originally published at The Conversation. The publication contributed the article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.Australia is world famous for its venomous critters, including its many highly venomous snakes.The snake that holds the popular title of “world’s most venomous” is the inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus), an inhabitant of Australia’s arid interior. Astonishingly, a single bite from an inland taipan is capable of delivering enough venom to kill 250,000 lab mice.The venom of the inland taipan has attracted considerable research interest and the toxins responsible for its extreme toxicity have been identified. Effective antivenom also exists for the treatment of bites.What we don’t know, though, is why the inland taipan needs such toxic venom. We know almost nothing about the evolutionary selection pressures that have refined and enhanced the toxins present in the venom of this iconic species of snake. … [Read more...] about Why are Some Snakes So Venomous?
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Like people with an accent, snakes from different regions pack different venom. A new study finds that antivenoms, the drugs created to combat snake bites in humans, need to take these chemical differences into account.Scientists have known for many decades that venom of snakes of the same species can vary geographically, causing snakebite victims to suffer different symptoms. Yet while these differences in symptoms had been studied, little research has been done on the chemical differences in venom within any given species.The new study compares the protein chemistry of the deadly lancehead pitviper (Bothrops asper) from two geographically isolated populations from the Caribbean and Pacific regions of Costa Rica. The researchers also analyzed venom from adult and newborn snakes.The researchers "found major differences in the venoms collected from the two regions," they report in the August issue of the Journal of Proteome Research.They also found distinct differences in proteins of … [Read more...] about Snake Venom Changes with Age, Location
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