Being a highly toxic animal means developing an antidote to your own venom or spending your entire life in fear of being bitten on the cheek. Not surprisingly, the snakes slipped the first way. The nature of this resistance is altered by poison and it is rarely understood. A new study found that two families of venomous snakes managed it with a neat electrostatic trick and showed that many non-venomous snakes were also caught.
Neurotoxins represent one of the most common ways to subdue snake prey. Certain snakes are known to block themselves and prevent themselves from being harmed. Dr. Bryan Fry of the University of Queensland likened it to planting a wing on a docking site to prevent toxin molecules from entering. Fry knew that minority snakes use this method and are studying what others do.
In the activities of the Royal Society B, Fry and Richard Harris provide a part of the answer: the neurotoxins used by some-some snakes include positively charged amino acids. This makes them particularly effective against most animals because the part of the receptor they target is negatively charged. However, these snakes have evolved to flip the charge of their receptors. Trying to lock the two positive charges together, Fry told IFLScience; the poison cannot trigger nerves without connecting to the receptor, “like trying to bring together poles that match a magnet.”
Unfortunately for the cobras and their people, they simply can’t find this defensive mechanism. Harris and Fry have evolved independently at least ten times between these types of charge-resisting snakes found Fry told IFLScience that they could say this because; “We see it in snakes that are not related, it is not present in many interfering species.” The common feature of all snakes with this immunity – except that they themselves are venomous – is that they all live in the vicinity of snakes that use α-neurotoxins for prey.
The obvious question is why, if snakes have developed this defense system so frequently, other species have not done the same and have left the venom completely out of business. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. “It simply came to our notice then. In an earlier study, we showed that vipers were no longer predicted by the Coopers to have resisted [other forms of] resistance, so there must be some electoral pressure against it. “
Until recently, such a study would have been almost impossible as every snake sample in the study would have needed to be killed, even if the costs and effort involved had made it unreasonable to ignore ethical issues. However, the authors have taken the pioneering role of Fry using new technology, creating artificial nerves that replicate each individual species and examining the response of any molecule.