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October 2, 2019

Skull of a puff adder showing hinged jaws

Skull of a puff adder showing hinged jaws. Like most venomous snakes, vipers -- a group that includes rattlesnakes, asps and puff adders -- have fangs that function primarily as hypodermic needles. But vipers tend to have hinged jaws that deploy the fangs when the animal opens its mouth to strike, and fold the fangs up into their mouths for storage.

A team of researchers at the University of Illinois studied which physical characteristics contribute to fangs’ sharpness and ability to puncture. Their research revealed that the angle of a fang’s tip contributed the most to its sharpness.

[Research supported by National Science Foundation grants IOS 17-55336 and CMMI 15-54326.]

Learn more about this research in the Illinois news story Team measures puncture performance of viper fangs. (Date image taken: April 2019; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: Oct. 2, 2019)

Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer; specimen ©Field Museum of Natural History FMNH11006

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