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snake venom

[Bring this thread back to dinosaurs or take it to personal e-mail.
 -- MR ]

Tony Canning wrote:
> Reptile venoms (which have probably evolved more than once in Lepidosaurs)
> seem to be an associated with swallowing large prey whole.  There is good
> reason to think they evolved (from salivary secretions) as an aid to 
> digestion.
> As endotherms tend to dismember prey before eating it there is no selection
> pressure favouring the evolution of increasingly powerful saliva.

Stop me if you've heard this one... 

Years ago, a nine-year-old boy got bitten by a small common garter snake
(I think only 25 cm long) in a schoolyard in California.  The little
snake couldn't or wouldn't let go of the boy's thumb.  The janitor pried
it loose with a screwdriver.

At first the bite seemed insignificant because the snake's teeth were so
small.  The boy's arm quickly swelled and turned black to the shoulder. 
He was airlifted hundreds of miles to a hospital that gave him serum for
a rattlesnake bite.  It worked.

The result of the bite was unexpected because it's rare for anyone to
get injected with the saliva of a garter snake.

- Stephen Throop