Monday, December 21, 2009

First evidence for venomous dinosaurs

A turkey-sized raptor from China, otherwise an unspectacular find, appears to have been venomous. The fang-like upper teeth are grooved, as some snakes' are, and there are pockets in the upper jaw that could be for venom glands. The coral snake is an example of a modern reptile that uses such grooved teeth to deliver venom (as opposed to rattlesnakes, where the fangs are actually hollow and can inject venom.) Given that the modern reptiles developed poison armament twice (in the snakes and in the lizards), it's not surprising that dinosaurs, with a variety of forms evolving over 100+ million years, came up with it at least once.

2 comments: said...

I'm afraid of Velociraptors! :)

Matt Bille said...

You should be!