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:2/2/2017)... 1, 2017  Central to its deep commitment ... worldwide, The Japan Prize Foundation today announced the ... pushed the envelope in their respective fields of ... scientists are being recognized with the 2017 Japan ... only contribute to the advancement of science and ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... -- Crossmatch, a leading provider of security and identity management ... fraud, waste and abuse in assistance operations around the ... Disaster Relief conference in Panama City ... foreign assistance organizations throughout Latin America ... largely unacknowledged problem in the foreign assistance and disaster ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... , Jan. 24, 2017  It sounds ... baby,s sock that monitors vital signs and alerts ... an infant,s oxygen saturation level drops. But pediatric ... alarm to parents, with no evidence of medical ... devices are marketed aggressively to parents of healthy ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/28/2017)... Massachusetts and NEW YORK , ... Biologics License Application accepted by the FDA for avelumab  ... the disease has metastasized   ... Germany , in the US and ... the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted for ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - InMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("InMed") (CSE: IN; ... Friday, February 24, 2017 a total of 10,672,750 common share ... per common share. Proceeds from the exercise of these warrants ... Treasury.   ... "We are grateful for this expression of confidence by our ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... SAN FRANCISCO , Feb. 27, 2017 ... Spain has been appointed as ... Biopsy System. The IsoFlux system will be used in ... mutations relevant to lung and colon cancer, with plans ... developed. The laboratory is utilizing Fluxion,s IsoFlux System to ...
(Date:2/25/2017)... ... February 25, 2017 , ... ... Clinical Trials in an ongoing effort to create meaningful change by increasing ... pharmaceutical research with emphasis on consumers and patients’ mental health well-being. , Both ...
Breaking Biology Technology: