snakevenom

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Snake venom is highly modified saliva. The venom is part of a whole: the apparatus, which is made up of venom glands that synthesize venom; and an injection system, consisting of modified fangs with which to make the venom penetrate into a prey item or a possible threat or predator. The glands which secrete the zootoxins are a modification of the parotid salivary gland of other vertebrates, and are usually situated on each side of the head below and behind the eye, encapsulated in a muscular sheath. The glands have large alveoli in which the synthesized venom is stored before being conveyed by a duct to the base of channeled or tubular fangs, through which it is ejected. Venoms contain more than 20 different compounds, mostly proteins and polypeptides. Snake venom has two main functions: first, the immobilization of prey and second, the digestion of prey. It is a complex mixture of proteins, enzymes, and various other substances. The proteins are responsible for the toxic and lethal effect of the venom and its function is to immobilize prey, enzymes play an important role in the digestion of prey, and various other substances are responsible for important but non-lethal biological effects. Some of the proteins in snake venom are very particular in their effects on various biological functions including blood coagulation, blood pressure regulation, transmission of the nervous or muscular impulse and have turned out to be pharmacological or diagnostic tools or even useful drugs. Viper venom acts more on the vascular system, bringing about coagulation of the blood and clotting of the pulmonary arteries; its action on the nervous system is not great, no individual group of nerve-cells appears to be picked out, and the effect upon respiration is not so direct; the influence upon the circulation explains the great depression which is a symptom of viperine envenomation. The pain of the wound is severe, and is speedily followed by swelling and discoloration. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



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