Tears of venom: hydrodynamics of reptilian envenomation.Phys Rev Lett 2011; 106(19):198103PR
In the majority of venomous snakes, and in many other reptiles, venom is conveyed from the animal's gland to the prey's tissue through an open groove on the surface of the teeth and not through a tubular fang. Here we focus on two key aspects of the grooved delivery system: the hydrodynamics of venom as it interacts with the groove geometry, and the efficiency of the tooth-groove-venom complex as the tooth penetrates the prey's tissue. We show that the surface tension of the venom is the driving force underlying the envenomation dynamics. In so doing, we explain not only the efficacy of the open groove, but also the prevalence of this mechanism among reptiles.