Bite of a coral asp: what is the unique poison of this snake capable of

(ORDO NEWS) — The blue coral asp likes to hunt not only frogs and rodents, but also other poisonous snakes. For these purposes, evolution has provided him with a unique toxin that turns the last hours of the victim’s life into a living hell.

We are accustomed to the fact that in the wild, snakes usually feed on rodents and other small and harmless animals. However, the beautiful and deadly blue coral snake preys on fast and venomous snakes.

Such a victim must not only be caught up, but also immobilized, and for these purposes the reptile uses a special poison that turns the last seconds of the prey’s life into real torture.

Unique snake venom

A bright color in nature often symbolizes the danger of a creature, and just a glance at this snake immediately makes the enemy understand who he is dealing with. Found in southeast Asia, blue coral snakes or, as scientists call them, two-banded glandular snakes ( Calliophis bivirgatus ), are distinguished by a bright red, neon-lit head and blue patterns throughout – they are not for nothing that they are part of the genus “Decorated asps”.

In an article published in the journal Toxins , researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia describe the unique properties of snake venom, which, when released into the bloodstream, provides the victim with a massive shock to the entire physiological system.

What happens to the victim after being bitten

Almost immediately after being bitten, the victim goes into a catatonic state. The poison causes the entire nervous network of the body to chaotically strain the muscles, as a result of which the victim beats in spasmodic convulsions.

Paralyzed and helpless, she eventually becomes the prey of a predator. Although this sounds very ominous, evolution had its own reasons for this: coral asps prey on other poisonous snakes, which have exceptional reactions, flexibility and an impressive arsenal of self-defense. A special poison is produced and stored in the gland, which makes up a full quarter of the snake’s total body.

Bite of a coral asp what is the unique poison of this snake capable of 2Coral snake, Guyana

Why are scientists interested in the toxin?

Scientists have already seen similar toxins in nature, but have never found them in snakes, let alone other vertebrate species. Such poisons are characteristic primarily of scorpions and spiders.

Cones(Conus), predatory gastropods, inject a similar toxin into the fish, which instantly paralyzes them due to spasmodically tense muscles, as in tetanus.

The venom of a two-striped glandular snake has the same effect, and scientists say it’s a good example of convergent evolution (when the same trait appears in several species of living creatures independently of each other).

Researchers refer to its effect as spasmodic paralysis, while the venoms of other snakes cause peripheral paralysis. Interaction with poison blocks the ability of nerves to “turn off” sodium channels, which results in continuous signal transmission and, as a result, constant tension in muscle fibers.

Ironically, the dreaded toxin could be used for medical purposes. Currently, experts are developing drugs based on it that will act as an analgesic.


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