Navigation Links
Here's venom in your eye: Spitting cobras hit their mark
Date:1/22/2009

Spitting cobras have an exceptional ability to spray venom into eyes of potential attackers. A new study published in Physiological and Biochemical Zoology reveals how these snakes maximize their chances of hitting the target.

The name "spitting cobra" is a bit of a misnomer. Cobras don't actually "spit" venom, says the study's lead author Bruce Young, director of the Anatomical Laboratory in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Muscle contractions squeeze the cobra's venom gland, forcing venom to stream out of the snake's fangs. The muscles can produce enough pressure to spray venom up to six feet.

There are no points for distance, however. To be effective, venom must make contact with an attacker's eyes, where it causes severe pain and possibly blindness. Previous studies have found that cobras hit their targets with alarming frequencynearly 100 percent accuracy from 60 centimeters.

Dr. Young and his colleagues, Melissa Boetig and Dr. Guido Westhoff, have found the secret to the cobra's success.

Cobra venom does not hit a victim in one spot. Instead, the venom lands in complex geometric patterns. This is no accident, according to the study. The patterns are actively produced by the cobra.

Dr. Young and his team used high-speed photography and electromyography (EMG) to detect contractions of head and neck muscles. They found that cobras engage their head and neck muscles a split second before spitting. The muscle activity rotates the head, and jerks it from side to side and back again, producing complex venom patterns.

"The venom-delivery system functions to propel the venom forward while the [head and neck] muscles produce rapid oscillations of the head that disperse the venom, presumably maximizing the chance that a portion of the spat venom will contact the eye," the authors write.

The ability to actively disperse venom means that cobras don't need dead aim on the eye. They just need to be in the ballpark.

The paper appears in an issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology on the focused topic "Functional Consequences of Extreme Adaptations." PBZ is edited by Dr. James Hicks of the University of California, Irvine and published by the University of Chicago Press.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kevin Stacey
kstacey@uchicago.edu
773-834-0386
University of Chicago Press Journals
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. The bombardier beetle, power venom and spray technologies
2. Does the victim affect snake venom composition?
3. As super-predators, humans reshape their prey at super-natural speeds
4. College students find comfort in their pets during hard times
5. Caltech researchers get first look at how groups of cells coordinate their movements
6. Key to curing obesity may lie in worms that destroy their own fat: McGill researchers
7. No place like home: New theory for how salmon, sea turtles find their birthplace
8. Plants grow bigger and more vigorously through changes in their internal clocks
9. Fish choose their leaders by consensus
10. In the war against diseases, nerve cells need their armor
11. Lead-flapping objects experience less wind resistance than their trailing counterparts
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/8/2017)... , Feb. 7, 2017 The ... largely by the confluence of organizations, desires to ... for knowledge-based systems (password and challenge questions), biometrics ... and government systems. The market is driven by ... demarcation between consumer and enterprise uses cases, with ...
(Date:2/7/2017)... --  MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical technology ... is pleased to announce that the latest release of ... and award winning eClinical solution, is now available for ... a proven Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) clinical research technology platform that ... delivers an entire suite of eClinical tools to support ...
(Date:2/7/2017)... BEACH, New York , February 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... known as ID Global Solutions Corporation [OTC: IDGS], ("Ipsidy" ... identity management and electronic transaction processing services, is pleased ... reorganization of the Company. Effective January 31, ... of the Board of Directors, CEO and President.  An ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/24/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Chef Jodi Abel has returned from her three-week tour ... she gained a number of delicious recipes and new techniques to share with her ... Western Cape province. It is internationally renowned for its incredible wine farms, beautiful ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... -- China Cord Blood Corporation (NYSE: CO ... cord blood collection, laboratory testing, hematopoietic stem cell processing ... financial results for the third quarter and first nine ... Third Quarter of Fiscal 2017 Highlights ... 2017 increased by 18.6% to RMB200.9 million ($28.9 million). ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... NEW YORK , Feb. 23, ... , a leading digital health company, and ... of telemedicine and remote patient monitoring, announce they ... reimbursements.  DN Telehealth maximizes collaboration ... real-time, extending consultations beyond a physical clinical setting ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... Atlanta, it seems everyone has a chance to express their ... expressive and dynamic community unlike any other. The businesses that ... With their newest salon in ... on that tradition with a unique, fresh approach to head ... the newest of 13 nationwide locations, each of them well-situated ...
Breaking Biology Technology: