How tubular venom-conducting fangs are formed.J Morphol 2002; 252(3):291-7JM
Elapids, viperids, and some other groups of colubroid snakes have tubular fangs for the conduction of venom into their prey. The literature describing the development of venom-conducting fangs provides two contradictory accounts of fang development. Some studies claim that the venom canal forms by the infolding of a deep groove along the surface of the tooth to produce an enclosed canal. In other works the tubular fang is said to form by the deposition of material from tip to base, so that the canal develops without any folding. This study was undertaken to examine fang development and to account for the disagreement in the literature by determining whether fang formation varies among groups of venomous snakes and whether it differs between embryos and adults. Adult and embryonic representatives of elapids and viperids were examined. All fangs examined, elapid and viperid, embryos and adults, were found to develop into their tubular shape by the addition of material to the basal end of the tooth rather than by the folding inward of an ungrooved tooth to form a tubular fang. In some cases, the first fang that develops in embryonic snakes differs morphologically from all those formed subsequently.