Fang evolution in venomous snakes: Adaptation of 3D tooth shape to the biomechanical properties of their prey

  title={Fang evolution in venomous snakes: Adaptation of 3D tooth shape to the biomechanical properties of their prey},
  author={Silke G C Cleuren and David P. Hocking and Alistair R. Evans},
Venomous snakes are among the world's most specialized predators. During feeding, they use fangs to penetrate the body tissues of their prey, but the success of this penetration depends on the shape of these highly specialized teeth. Here, we examined the evolution of fang shape in a wide range of snakes using 3D geometric morphometrics (3DGM) and cross‐sectional tooth sharpness measurements. We investigated the relationship of these variables with six diet categories based on the prey's… 
Fang shape varies with ontogeny and sex in the venomous elapid snake Pseudonaja affinis
Using snout‐vent length as a proxy for age, it is found that the ontogenetic shift in fang shape occurs when P. affinis is around 60 cm long, corresponding with previous studies that found this size to be the moment where these snakes switch from their juvenile to adult diet.
Dynamic genetic differentiation drives the widespread structural and functional convergent evolution of snake venom proteinaceous toxins
This work sequenced the transcriptomes of eight taxonomically diverse rear-fanged species and four key viperid species and analysed major toxin types shared across the advanced snakes, finding novel convergences in both structural and functional evolution of snake toxins.
Varying Intensities of Introgression Obscure Incipient Venom-Associated Speciation in the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)
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Bayesian prediction of multivariate ecology from phenotypic data yields novel insights into the diets of extant and extinct taxa
Morphology often relates to ecology in a well-defined manner, enabling prediction of ecological roles for taxa that lack direct observations, such a fossils. Diet is a particularly important


Mechanics of snake biting: Experiments and modelling.
What makes a fang? Phylogenetic and ecological controls on tooth evolution in rear-fanged snakes
This study quantified variation in the dentition of 145 colubriform snake species using microCT scanning and compared dental characters with ecological data on species’ diet and prey capture method(s) to understand broader patterns in snake fang evolution, and provides a framework for quantifying the complex morphologies associated with venom use in snakes.
Has snake fang evolution lost its bite? New insights from a structural mechanics viewpoint
The hypothesis that larger fangs and consequently a shift to an anterior position in the maxilla evolved to compensate for the costs of structural changes is tested, suggesting that fang length might instead be related to differential striking behaviour strategies.
Linking tooth shape to strike mechanics in the Boa constrictor.
This work examined changes in tooth shape along the jaw of Boa constrictor and found that teeth in the anterior third of the mandible are the most upright, and that teeth become progressively more curved posteriorly.
Specializations of the Body Form and Food Habits of Snakes
Ancillary effects of the morphological features of vipers, plus the ability to ingest a very large quantity of food in one meal, should produce quantitative and qualitative differences in the ecology and behavior of viperid snakes.
  • K. Kardong
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1979
It is the purpose here to identify possible initial selective advantages of enlarged teeth and to follow the implications of enlargement in "protoviper" evolution.
Snake fangs from the Lower Miocene of Germany: evolutionary stability of perfect weapons
The fossil record supports the view that snakes used their venoms to rapidly subdue prey long before the mid-Tertiary onset of the global environmental changes that seem to have supported the successful radiation of venomous snakes.
Viperous fangs: Development and evolution of the venom canal
  • A. Savitzky
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1980
It is argued that envenomation has been a key adaptation in determining the success of all of the higher snakes and its special role in the adaptive radiation of advanced snakes derives from a complex morphological response to changing environmental conditions that embraced both the locomotor and feeding systems of snakes.