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Re: Venom in Sinornithosaurus

--- On Thu, 12/24/09, Erik Boehm <erikboehm07@yahoo.com> wrote:

> Suppose all snakes go extinct except for the non venomous
> Corn Snake family.
> Do you then conclude despite finding fossils with fangs,
> that the snakes were non-poisonous, as there must be some
> other function for the fangs?
> Yes, I know - if only corn snakes were around, there would
> be no evidence in extant animals for venom, and we shouldn't
> assume earlier snakes had venom - fine.

Actually, some species within the 'Corn Snake family' (Colubridae) are 
rear-fanged, and garter snakes have a very mild neurotoxin in their saliva 
produced by a gland in their gums. Garter snakes have no obvious means for 
delivering venom (no venom sac, no grooved teeth, no fangs) except for what's 
preserved in soft tissue. I guess this only complicates your analogy, as there 
are many animals that secrete toxins of one form or another, be it for prey 
capture or to avoid becoming prey, that show no outward osteological clues of 
that feature. That's what I get for keeping garters as pets!

Michelle Pinsdorf
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology