Tears of venom: Hydrodynamics of reptilian envenomation

Bruce A. Young, Florian Herzog, Paul Friedel, Sebastian Rammensee, Andreas Bausch, J. Leo Van Hemmen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number198103
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number19
StatePublished - 12 May 2011


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