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Posts Tagged "venom"

Extinction Countdown

Viper Collectors Nearly Wiped Out This Rare Turkish Snake; Saint Louis Zoo Helps to Save It

ocellate viper

Nine young, highly venomous snakes are safely slithering in the viper room of the Saint Louis Zoo today, thanks to a breeding program that may help to save the species from extinction after overzealous collectors nearly eradicated it from its natural range. The critically endangered ocellate mountain viper (Vipera wagneri) has a long and problem-plagued [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Solenodon: ‘Extinct’ Venomous Mammal Rediscovered in Cuba after 10-Year Search

cuban solenodon

A primitive, venomous mammal endemic to Cuba and once listed as extinct has been rediscovered after a decadelong quest. The shrewlike Cuban solenodon (Solenodon cubanus)—a “living fossil” that has not changed much in millions of years—was all but wiped out in the 19th century by deforestation and introduced species. The 30-centimeter-long, nocturnal solenodons possess a [...]

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Guest Blog

Biting the hand that feeds: The evolution of snake venom

"Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?"—Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark Let’s face it. Snakes are not most people’s favorite animals. They slink and slither without making much noise, have a forked tongue with unblinking eyes, and fangs that bite or coils that wrap. Some snakes are so dangerous that people [...]

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Guest Blog

When animals attack: Death databases indicate that our fondest phobias may be misdirected

Left: Although this python could probably consume a small child, according to the CDC’s death statistics it most likely won’t. [Credit: Rachel Nuwer] Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Messages warning us of the dangers of ferocious and venomous animals surround us. From the serpent lurking in the Garden of Eden to the critter [...]

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Not bad science

Black Widows Have More Control Over Their Attacks Than You Think

The western widow spider, Latrodectus hesperus

Imagine that you’re being attacked by a lion. Or if you happen to be a lion-wrestler, imagine that it’s a shark. How hard are you going to fight back? Probably with everything you’ve got. This is about as dangerous as a situation as you can be in, and you’re going to kick, punch, bite and [...]

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Observations

Super-Toxic Snake Venom Could Yield New Painkillers

black mamba snake venom pain killer

A bite from the black mamba snake (Dendroaspis polylepis) can kill an adult human within 20 minutes. But mixed in with that toxic venom is a new natural class of compound that could be used to help develop new painkillers. Named “mambalgins,” these peptides block acute and inflammatory pain in mice as well as morphine [...]

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Observations

Spitting cobras use quick reaction and anticipation to attempt to blind targets with venom

spitting cobra defend venom anticipate

Even cobras need to defend themselves sometimes. These venomous snakes keep adversaries at bay by spitting a neurotoxin or other substance into their perceived enemy’s eyes, causing severe pain and sometimes blindness. And they are incredibly accurate in hitting their target—even though it is often moving and more than a meter away. But how can [...]

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Observations

Bird-like dinosaur used venom to subdue prey

venom dinosaur raptor feathered teeth

A fierce, feathered raptor might have been terrifying enough to small dinosaurs, lizards, birds and mammals living 128 million years ago, but add venom to its arsenal and the threat would be paralyzing—literally. First described a decade ago, Sinornithosaurus had peculiar dental and facial features—including some long, grooved teeth and indentations in its face—that initially [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Deadly Octopus Flashes Bright Blue Warning with Super-Reflective Skin [Video]

blue-ringed octopus flashes blue warning muscles iridophores

The diminutive blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata) looks like a sweet, possibly even fantastical creature. Often measuring less than 20 centimeters long and covered with dozens of bright blue rings, it spends most of its time hiding out in shells or rocks near the beach. But don’t be fooled—this little cephalopod is trouble. One small nip [...]

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