- The Loom
Which Came First, the Snake or the Venom?
Back in February I discovered the remarkable work of Australian biologist Bryan Grieg Fry, who has been tracing the evolution of venom. As I wrote in the New York Times, he searched the genomes of snakes for venom genes. He discovered that even non-venomous snakes produce venom. By drawing an evolutionary tree of the venom genes, Fry showed that the common ancestor of living snakes had several kinds of venom, which had evolved through accidental “borrowing” of proteins produced in other parts of the body. Later, these genes duplicated to create a sophisticated cocktail of venoms–a cocktail that varied from one lineage of snakes to another.
As I report tomorrow in the Times, Fry has taken this research