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Has snake fang evolution lost its bite? New insights from a structural mechanics viewpoint.
Biol Lett 2017; 13(8)BL

Abstract

Venomous snakes-the pinnacle of snake evolution-are characterized by their possession of venom-conducting fangs ranging from grooved phenotypes characterizing multiple lineages of rear-fanged taxa to tubular phenotypes present in elapids, viperids and atractaspidines. Despite extensive research, controversy still exists on the selective pressures involved in fang phenotype diversification. Here, we test 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, i.e. higher stress upon impact in tubular fangs compared to grooved fangs. Direct voxel-based stress simulations conducted on high-resolution µCT scans, analysed within a phylogenetic framework, showed no differences in stress distribution between the three fang phenotypes, despite differences in (relative) fang length. These findings suggest that additional compensatory mechanisms are responsible for the biomechanical optimization and that fang length might instead be related to differential striking behaviour strategies.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa.CT Scanner Facility, Central Analytical Facilities, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa anton2@sun.ac.za.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

28768797

Citation

Broeckhoven, Chris, and Anton du Plessis. "Has Snake Fang Evolution Lost Its Bite? New Insights From a Structural Mechanics Viewpoint." Biology Letters, vol. 13, no. 8, 2017.
Broeckhoven C, du Plessis A. Has snake fang evolution lost its bite? New insights from a structural mechanics viewpoint. Biol Lett. 2017;13(8).
Broeckhoven, C., & du Plessis, A. (2017). Has snake fang evolution lost its bite? New insights from a structural mechanics viewpoint. Biology Letters, 13(8), doi:10.1098/rsbl.2017.0293.
Broeckhoven C, du Plessis A. Has Snake Fang Evolution Lost Its Bite? New Insights From a Structural Mechanics Viewpoint. Biol Lett. 2017;13(8) PubMed PMID: 28768797.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Has snake fang evolution lost its bite? New insights from a structural mechanics viewpoint. AU - Broeckhoven,Chris, AU - du Plessis,Anton, PY - 2017/05/12/received PY - 2017/07/11/accepted PY - 2017/8/4/entrez PY - 2017/8/5/pubmed PY - 2017/12/2/medline KW - Serpentes KW - dentition KW - mechanical simulation KW - stress analysis KW - venom delivery systems JF - Biology letters JO - Biol. Lett. VL - 13 IS - 8 N2 - Venomous snakes-the pinnacle of snake evolution-are characterized by their possession of venom-conducting fangs ranging from grooved phenotypes characterizing multiple lineages of rear-fanged taxa to tubular phenotypes present in elapids, viperids and atractaspidines. Despite extensive research, controversy still exists on the selective pressures involved in fang phenotype diversification. Here, we test 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, i.e. higher stress upon impact in tubular fangs compared to grooved fangs. Direct voxel-based stress simulations conducted on high-resolution µCT scans, analysed within a phylogenetic framework, showed no differences in stress distribution between the three fang phenotypes, despite differences in (relative) fang length. These findings suggest that additional compensatory mechanisms are responsible for the biomechanical optimization and that fang length might instead be related to differential striking behaviour strategies. SN - 1744-957X UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/28768797/Has_snake_fang_evolution_lost_its_bite_New_insights_from_a_structural_mechanics_viewpoint_ L2 - https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rsbl.2017.0293?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub=pubmed DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -