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Author Topic:   Evolution of Poison
Wolf
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 21 (229046)
08-03-2005 4:22 AM


Hello all.

First time posting here. I have been studying creation/evolution for about 9 months now. On the web and by reading various books.

Now to my question. I did some searching on here and have not been able to find how organisms evolved poison. There are different species with poison and different types of poison. From snakes, bees wasp, spiders, jellyfish and platypus to name a few. Poisons that effect respiratory, nervous or flesh eating. Does anyone know how these might have evolved?

Thank you for your time.

This message has been edited by Wolf, 08-02-2005 10:14 AM


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AdminSylas
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 21 (229047)
08-03-2005 4:23 AM


Promoted by AdminSylas.

This message has been edited by AdminSylas, 08-03-2005 04:23 AM


  
Fluke
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 21 (229097)
08-03-2005 9:07 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Wolf
08-03-2005 4:22 AM


Very good question? That was one of the first things i thought of when i was in grade 9. I still have a heap to read on this site and i am very interested in the response to this. I will not say how it evolved because i don't believe in evolution. although I am trying to understand it.

And welcome to the game.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Wolf, posted 08-03-2005 4:22 AM Wolf has not yet responded

  
kongstad
Member (Idle past 1810 days)
Posts: 175
From: Copenhagen, Denmark
Joined: 02-24-2004


Message 4 of 21 (229105)
08-03-2005 9:37 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Wolf
08-03-2005 4:22 AM


Snake venom
Hi Wolf

There has recently been an article on the evolution of snake venom.

http://www.genome.org/cgi/content/abstract/15/3/403

It has been wtitten about in the New York times:

http://tinyurl.com/csved

A researcher has looked at the active genes in the venome glands of snakes, and have found evidence for the evolutionary history of the genes.

It seems that most adaptions came from a process called "gene recruitment" which works by a gene being accidently duplicated, and the duplicated copy is activated in the venom glands.

If the protein the gene produces is toxic to the prey, then the gene is selected for.

/Soren

This message has been edited by kongstad, 03-Aug-2005 04:42 PM


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Wolf
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 21 (229324)
08-03-2005 4:06 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by kongstad
08-03-2005 9:37 AM


Re: Snake venom
Thanks for the informative info. Very interesting.


"A Dwarf on a Giants Shoulder sees the Furthest of the Two!"

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riVeRraT
Member (Idle past 860 days)
Posts: 5746
From: NY USA
Joined: 05-09-2004


Message 6 of 21 (231270)
08-09-2005 8:34 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by kongstad
08-03-2005 9:37 AM


Re: Snake venom
Well, I don't belong here, but I couldn't resist. I love science and all, but when I read something like this:
quote:

If the protein the gene produces is toxic to the prey, then the gene is selected for.

I ask myself who selects it?
Who determines that the venom is toxic to the pray?

And on the third day the snake created venom, and his mind saw that it was good, so it was night, and the day had past. On the fourth day, the snake imagined a hollowed out tooth, and he saw that it was good, and the snake said, make it so #1, so it was night, and the day had past.

All kidding aside, it is amazing.


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jar
Member
Posts: 33343
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 7 of 21 (231324)
08-09-2005 11:11 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by riVeRraT
08-09-2005 8:34 AM


Re: Snake venom
I ask myself who selects it?

Nature. The guy with venom has a better chance of killing prey, eating and living long enough to breed. This does not mean that the other critter dies out, they may both continue but diverge into two different lines.

Who determines that the venom is toxic to the pray?

Nature does. Prey dies.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

This message is a reply to:
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riVeRraT
Member (Idle past 860 days)
Posts: 5746
From: NY USA
Joined: 05-09-2004


Message 8 of 21 (231680)
08-09-2005 10:37 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by jar
08-09-2005 11:11 AM


Re: Snake venom
I understand that, and that is in fact how it may have happened.
What is amazing to me is that it happened.

To be honest with you, I have a hard time believing or comprehending that this could happen by chance mutation. Which would make me believe snakes were either created, or created to evolve. I am still open minded about it.

It seems like to explain anything happening, we just throw the millions of years at it, and anything is possible.

Why would a snake develop something as complex and devestatingly effective as venom, yet still remain slithering on the ground?


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jar
Member
Posts: 33343
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 9 of 21 (231681)
08-09-2005 10:45 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by riVeRraT
08-09-2005 10:37 PM


Re: Snake venom
I have a hard time believing or comprehending that this could happen by chance mutation.

The incredulity defense.

Lets move through this step by step.

First, you agree that not all snakes are venomous.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

This message is a reply to:
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riVeRraT
Member (Idle past 860 days)
Posts: 5746
From: NY USA
Joined: 05-09-2004


Message 10 of 21 (231721)
08-10-2005 6:44 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by jar
08-09-2005 10:45 PM


Re: Snake venom
I just didn't know the answer to that. According to the article, many venemous snakes we thought weren't venemous actually are. So I am supposing that not all snakes are venemous.

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jar
Member
Posts: 33343
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 11 of 21 (231791)
08-10-2005 10:12 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by riVeRraT
08-10-2005 6:44 AM


Re: Snake venom
Are you familiar with tha Komodo Dragon?


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

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Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5552
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 12 of 21 (231933)
08-10-2005 2:30 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by jar
08-10-2005 10:12 AM


Re: Snake venom
Heck, even a mammal - the solenodon from Cuba - has toxic saliva and a grooved tooth to help ensure that some of that toxin gets into its meal. The solenodon is just about extinct, due to humans and their pets moving there, but it's easy to see how just some small changes could lead to better poison-delivery efficiency: say, a salivary duct with an outlet right above the tooth. Or a groove in a tooth getting a roof and becoming a channel in a tooth.

Of course, they may not truly be poison, and just ugly things to death:
http://images.google.com/images?q=solenodon&hl=en&btnG=Search+Images


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Cal
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 21 (243605)
09-14-2005 11:49 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Wolf
08-03-2005 4:22 AM


There are different species with poison and different types of poison. From snakes, bees wasp, spiders, jellyfish and platypus to name a few. Poisons that effect respiratory, nervous or flesh eating. Does anyone know how these might have evolved?

Taken in a broad sense, this question really is no different than asking how teeth or claws might have evolved, and the broad answer is: as the result of cumulative small changes in the genomes of the ancestors of these organisms, as they struggled to survive in environments which included other organisms, some of which were potential predators, some of which were potential competitors for the same food sources, and some of which would have made good eating themselves if they could be persuaded to hold still long enough.

It's important to note here that, like any other trait, toxicity cannot be considered independent of context. Just as any advantage confered by teeth or claws depends entirely on the availability of something to bite or scratch, any use of the term 'poisonous' should be considered to implicitly incur an obligation to answer the question: "to whom?" Oxygen is toxic to some bacteria, and carbon dioxide is toxic to animals.

For microorganisms, the ability to produce certain chemicals may be considered the equivalent of teeth and claws. They have been conducting research and development in such chemical warfare for several billion years, and so it is not surprising to find that many organisms which employ the use of some type of toxin don't actually produce the substance directly, relying instead on some type of bacteria to do that for them. The Komodo Dragon is a good example; its mouth is a cesspool, teeming with some very agressive bacteria. Just how it is that the Komodo is able to act as host to such lethal guests without succumbing to their effects itself is a question currently being investigated with great interest. In applying the above question to this sort of case, what we are really asking about is the origin of the symbiotic relationship between a toxin-producing microorganism and its host.

It's a different question when we ask about how exactly the production of toxins is accomplished (either by microorganisms or by other organisms which do produce their own toxins directly) -- that is: "which genes are involved in the production of such a toxin, and how could the modern versions of those genes be the result of small incremental changes in ancestral forms?" At this point, we'd need to narrow the parameters of the question; we'd need to be asking how the ability to produce a particular toxin might have evolved in a particular organism (with some venomous organisms, such as land snakes, it's going to be a bit more complicated than that, since their venoms tend to be rather complex chemically). As a perusal of the first article linked by kongstad above suggests, this may get a little hairy. Investigating the technical details may look a little too much like biochemistry homework to keep it comfortably within the scope of an informal discussion board like this one, but it's still interesting. I propose that a relevant quote from that article is this:

"All of the snake toxin types still possess the bioactivity of the ancestral proteins in at least some of the toxin isoforms".

A definition of isoforms is needed here:

"Different forms of a protein that may be produced from different genes, or from the same gene by alternative splicing."

here's another:

"The protein products of different versions of messenger RNA created from the same gene by employing different promoters, which causes transcription to skip certain exons. Since the promoters are tissue-specific, different tissues express different protein products of the same gene."


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Nuggin
Member (Idle past 1433 days)
Posts: 2965
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Joined: 08-09-2005


Message 14 of 21 (243608)
09-14-2005 11:55 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Coragyps
08-10-2005 2:30 PM


Re: Snake venom
Yup, and Solenodon isn't alone. The platypus male has a venomous spur on it's ankle and a recent find -- bisonalveus browni, a mouse sized hedgehog like species from North America circa 5million years ago had vemon grooves in it's teeth.

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Nuggin
Member (Idle past 1433 days)
Posts: 2965
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Joined: 08-09-2005


Message 15 of 21 (243618)
09-15-2005 12:13 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by riVeRraT
08-09-2005 10:37 PM


Re: Snake venom
To be honest with you, I have a hard time believing or comprehending that this could happen by chance mutation.

Well, let's look at this.

If poison / venom developed as a chance mutation what would we expect to find.

I would expect to find a variety of venoms/poisons and a variety of delivery systems. I would expect that species which are closely related would have similiar delivery systems, while species very distantly related might have totally unrelated delivery systems. I would expect that those types of animals which have been around the longest my have developed poison over animals which haven't been around as long.

Now, let's see what we find.

Types of Poison:
Snakes venom, jellyfish poison, toad poison, wasp poison, etc. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of different kinds of poisons. Their mechanics are so varied in fact that we have to develop dozens of different kinds of anti-venoms just to combat those we come into contact that most. Snake poisons kill their prey, spider poisons dissolve the insides of their prey, jellyfish poison paralyzes and kills extremely fast, toad poison makes predators vomit.

Delivery systems:
Ants/Bees/Wasps have detachable stingers on their abdomins. Snakes have hollow syringe-like fangs. Spiders also deliver poison through "fangs" though there fangs aren't true teeth. Toads excrete their poison through glands on their skin. Scorpions have stingers mounted on their long tails.

Where poisons are found:
The vast majority of poisonous/venomous creatures are found in the sea. They make up the most kinds of creatures, most kinds of poison, and by far the deadliest of poisons. Those animals on the ground with poison are mostly in the groups of insects, arachnids and snakes.

Seems like everything we'd predict to see, we're seeing.

What would we predict to see if poison was put in place by an intelligent designer?

As for the question - "why do snakes still crawl along the ground?"

You're going under the assumption that crawling on their bellies is not advantageous for snakes. That's just wrong. Snakes can get into places I could never hope to go. They can climb straight up limbless trees. Swim with great effeciency. Swallow meals so big, that even the fattest man wouldn't be able to come close to finishing it. Snake can kill by constriction, a particularly nifty skill.

Snakes are incredibly successful, largely due to the gains from losing their legs.

Your next question should be - "well, if being legless is so good, why aren't more things legless?"

Well, there are legless lizards (phoney snakes). But the biggest problem a species would have becoming like snakes is that snakes are already filling that niche very effectively. It's hard to dislodge them from their place in the chain of life.


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