Humans possess genetic blueprints to produce venom, study suggests

A new study has found that salivary glands in mammals and venom glands in snakes and spiders share similar, ancient hardware, indicating that humans could at one point have developed toxic superpowers.
Scientists from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University and the Australian National University examined “co-operating” genes associated with venom production but not directly responsible for it in the Taiwanese habu snake (Trimeresurus mucrosquamatus), finding over 3,000.

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These venom-associated genes carry out housekeeping, such as protecting cells from stress through protein production. The researchers found that, far from snakes, spiders, bats and other assorted venomous creatures, dogs, chimps and even humans have their own versions of this same genetic defensive architecture.

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“Many scientists have intuitively believed this is true, but this is the first real solid evidence for the theory that venom glands evolved from early salivary glands,” study author Agneesh Barua said, adding, “It definitely gives a whole new meaning to a toxic person.”

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