why are australian snakes the most toxic in the world?

8 Answers

  • oputz
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The issue is still very much controversially discussed among biologists. But it is true, the strongest venoms are found in Australian snakes. Even seasnakes with their hgihly effective and potential venom are of Australian origin.

    Venoms are highly diverse in their biochemical composition throughout the recent snake taxa (or taxonomic groups, like "family", "genus" etc.), which makes developing anitoxins so challenging, but which also offers great possibilities in drug development in biomedical sciences. what it tells us in regard to your question is that possibly the composition of the toxins can hint at their evolutionary origin. it is, what in phylogenetic research (the study of the evolutionary relationships of organisms) is referred to as a characteristic.

    One thing you have to keep in mind is that Australia is geographically separated from other continents. Unless living in the water or the air and being able to migrate long distances across long stretches of ocean, species will neither get nor out of Australia very easily (the seasnake being a case in point; it made its way all over the south sea). In other words, what is there, will evolve further there.

    Venoms usually evolve in a complex process also known as co-evolution. What determines change in the venom's composition and strength is the evolutionary adaptations of those organisms that get exposed to the poison. In other words, if a snake evolves a strong poison, but its main prey evolves an immunity to the toxin in response, a new and stronger poison would be necessary. And so, in co-evolution, certain traits can become extremely "heightened".

    Now, given that Australia is such an isolated part of the world (a giant island), co-evolution is likely to occur more often and easily. Elsewhere, a snake could simply try to migrate on and find other food. But more importantly, the diversification of snakes has pretty much one point of origin. It is one "monophyletic" group. The family of Australian snakes is the Elapidae. And these critters now evolve with already strong venom. You can see how the isolated geographic situation will intensify the process and produce strong venoms. This is also supported by the fact tha not only snakes but all other venmous critters have evolved more poisonous in Australia than elsewhere in the world.

    And ultimately, that means that one of the former comments has a valid point: Australians are tough to kill! Only that I am not thinking of human beings...

    Hope that helps.

  • 1 decade ago

    Considering that a Fierce snake can kill a five ton mouse with a single bite that is a fair question. I am a herpetologist and my theory is that it stems from Australia having an irregular climate. During a drought food becomes rare. If a Fierce snake sees a long-haired rat during a drought that might be the last rat that the snake sees for six months- if the rat gets away, the snake starves. But if you have ever been bitten by a rat, you will know that they have remarkable teeth. A bite to the eye of the snake (and the eye is right next to the mouth) would mean blindness, so the snake has to get in, bite, let go in a microsecond. If the rat then dashes off across the plain and gets stolen by a kite or an owl, that snake could die. Many snakes doubtlessly have in the past, which is why those ones that have had super-toxic venom survived to pass the trait onto their offspring. Just a theory- but it is the same principal that lead to the development of kangaroos. But that's another story.

    The venom of most Australian elapids is mainly concerned with immobilising the prey, rather than digestion.

  • 1 decade ago

    Australian snakes are always trying to one-up each other.

  • Ron~N
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    the tiapan is our deadliest-because it can repeatedly bite and inject venom-perhaps not the answer you wanted but our other snakes are not that bad -well i thought.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I think the african ones are also challenging mate

  • 1 decade ago

    Cause Aussies are harder to kill ;)

  • Haris
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Are they?

  • ?
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    too hot to handle!!!!

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