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Nature & Environment

Humans could one day evolve venom glands

By T.K. Randall
April 1, 2021 · Comment icon 17 comments

How would you use venom glands if you had them ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Luca Boldrini
Scientists believe that our salivary glands have the potential to evolve the ability to produce deadly venom.
When it comes to predicting future evolutionary changes to the human body, you might be tempted to imagine enhanced eyesight or a larger brain - but what about the ability to spit venom ?

According to a new study by scientists from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and the Australian National University, our salivary glands could one day evolve to produce venom in much the same way as many other existing animal species.

"Oral venom systems evolved multiple times in numerous vertebrates enabling the exploitation of unique predatory niches," the researchers wrote.

"Yet how and when they evolved remains poorly understood."

By studying the genes linked to the release of venom in animals, they found that the same genes and physical mechanisms were responsible for the release of both venom and saliva in various species.
It's not just snakes, frogs and spiders that produce venom either - some mammals do as well.

"While many snakes employ an oral venom system for securing prey, there are also mammals, such as shrews, and solenodons, that have evolved oral venom systems (based on salivary glands) for prey capture or defense," the researchers wrote.

So could humans really evolve venom glands in the future ?

While it seems unlikely that this would actually happen, it is certainly not impossible.

Exactly how we would use such an ability in everyday life however remains unclear.

Source: Popular Mechanics | Comments (17)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by MysteryMike 3 years ago
Lol sure ok.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Seti42 3 years ago
Our saliva/mouths are already a bacteria factory. Human bites are technically more likely to become infected than dog or cat bites.
Comment icon #10 Posted by josellama2000 3 years ago
Humans could one day evolve venom glands? Guys, please be more serious with your articles. Did you really mean mothers in law are not human?
Comment icon #11 Posted by Hammerclaw 3 years ago
Could evolve? You never met my Ex.
Comment icon #12 Posted by macrev 3 years ago
My wife already has.
Comment icon #13 Posted by ercbreeze 3 years ago
we will then have--the Kiss of Death!
Comment icon #14 Posted by Nnicolette 3 years ago
Maybe we could grow wings! And....? What is the point of these sort of articles?
Comment icon #15 Posted by Hankenhunter 3 years ago
Someone was bored, and said I wonder if....An exercise in possibilities? I call them brain farts. Cause everyone looks at you strangely when you express it. On line is safer, I guess.
Comment icon #16 Posted by and then 3 years ago
Yep... first thing I thought of.  I had a cousin who got into a fist fight with his brother-in-law and the b-i-l hit him in the mouth and scraped his knuckles on a tooth.  He nearly lost his hand to the infection.
Comment icon #17 Posted by tortugabob 3 years ago
Yeah and frogs may get wings too. Who dreams up this BS?

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