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Define rear-fanged...


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Posted by WW on October 14, 2002 at 03:32:44:

In Reply to: Re: Spalerosophis Diadema ??? posted by Gernot Vogel on October 13, 2002 at 06:57:57:

This is nowhere near as straightforward as it might seem, as BGF's post have already indicated.

People used to make a clear distinction between snakes with enlarged, GROOVED posterior maxillary teeth, and those without grooved posterior maxillary teeth. However, the reality is that there are a large number of different configurations of the maxillary teeth, randing from completely undifferentiated (as in a python) through all sorts of weird and wonderful stages right through to a "classical" rear-fanged configuration.

Problem is, practically all these maxillary tooth configurations occur in species which have Duvernoy's glands which secrete toxic compounds. Moreover, some species which have inflicted dangerous or even fatal bites do not have the classical rear-fanged configuration - Rhabpdophis tigrinus being the prime example. For that matter, even garter snakes, which certainly are not rear-fangs in the classical sense, have given people a sore arm!

In answer to your question about Spalerosophis, we can now split this into several elements:

Q: Does it have a Duvernoy's gland?
A: Almost certainly yes

Q: Is the secretion toxic to humans?
A: Almost certainly yes.

Q: Can Spalerosophis inflict a life-threatening bite?
A: Almost certainly not, but don't be the first to find out otherwise. There have been reports of painful bites.

Q: Does Spalerosophis have classical, grooved rear fangs?
A: I don't know, but does it really matter?

Hope this helps. Check out the link below for references and more info.

Cheers,

Wolfgang



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