There are hundreds of different kinds of poisonous snakes in the world, from brightly colored coral snakes to camouflaged cotton billed snakes. But somehow, even distant species have independently evolved special fangs with venom grooves – a long-term problem that has prompted new research on how this happens. Alexandro palch, a reptilian at Flinders University, said the answer had been hidden in the snake’s mouth.
In the proceedings of the Royal Society B, palci and his co-authors reported that most snakes have a circle of small dents at the bottom of their teeth. This dented tooth tissue is called maxillary dentin, which helps to fix the teeth on the jaw. “Before our study, it was thought that among the existing reptiles, the ancient creatures were limited to three types of lizards,” palci said. In fact, the study found that it seems to be common in snakes.
3D scanning shows that most snake teeth have maxillary lines, and the venom carrying groove is unique to venom species.
Source: Alessandro palci, excerpted from “ancient times and the repeated origin of snake venom fangs” by Alessandro palci in volume 288 of proceedings of the Royal Society B; August 11, 2021
The researchers say these dental anchors play another role in toxic species. They used microscopic tissue sampling and microscopic CT scanning of snake teeth to determine that in the teeth closest to the snake venom gland, the folds of maxillary people evolved into longer grooves to help the snake venom flow from the gland to the teeth and then to the prey.
This result shows that modern poisonous snake species do not have to start from the starting point of evolution every time they have a fatal bite. Palci pointed out that many snakes secrete toxic saliva, and a tooth with a more obvious maxillary sinus groove can make the initial venom spread more effectively. Repeating this change in snakes from generation to generation will evolve venomous fangs.
Kate Jackson, a reptilian at Whitman College who was not involved in the new study, said: “I like to see modern imaging technology and beautiful micro CT scanning applied to a classic problem.”. Jackson added that snakes may also grow venom carrying teeth through other ways. For example, many fish eating species have grooved teeth that help catch smooth prey; These grooves may also evolve into venom channels. Nevertheless, she said, the study revealed a new common feature of snakes and could allow Reptilians to understand how snake fangs evolved over and over again.