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:10/4/2017)... BLOOMINGTON, Ill. , Oct. 4, 2017  GCE Solutions, a ... powerful new data and document anonymization solution on October 4, 2017. ... the pharmaceutical field to comply with policy 0070 of the European ... documents and data. ... Innovation by GCE Solutions ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... July 20, 2017 Delta (NYSE: DAL ) customers ... Delta aircraft at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). ... Delta launches biometrics to board aircraft ... Delta,s biometric boarding pass ... is now integrated into the boarding process to allow eligible Delta ...
(Date:6/14/2017)...  IBM (NYSE: IBM ) is introducing several innovative ... to developing collaboration between startups and global businesses, taking place ... the event, nine startups will showcase the solutions they have ... France is one ... a 30 percent increase in the number of startups created ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... The award-winning American Farmer television series will feature ... Farmer airs Tuesdays at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , With global population estimates nearing ... how to continue to feed a growing nation. At the same time, many of ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... ... 2017, in the medical journal, Epilepsia, Brain Sentinel’s SPEAC® System which uses ... EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) using surface electromyography (sEMG). The ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... 2017  The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry ... Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard ... microscopy (cryo-EM) have helped to broaden the ... community. The winners worked with systems manufactured by ... highly resolved, three-dimensional images of protein structures that ...
(Date:10/5/2017)... LINDA, CA (PRWEB) , ... October 05, 2017 , ... ... innovators, engineers, and scientists from around the world, is giving back to cancer research ... sold in October. , Now through October 31, shoppers can use promo code ...
Breaking Biology Technology: