Thursday, March 30, 2017

Cute but Deadly

Cute but Deadly


Everyone knows how deadly certain snakes like the black mamba or some cobras can be. However, these animals look fierce and vicious from the outward appearance, but this little fellow known as a fang blenny. You would never suspect this tiny cute fish to be anything harmful. Not all species of this fang blenny are poisonous, but in fact only about 30% of them found can release this toxin.


Most fish release toxins through their fins or spine (puffer fish). This fang blenny delivers their toxin in a peculiar way. Like most other poisonous snake species, the venom is in the bite of the fang blenny. This toxin is not known to cause instant pain, but can drastically reduce the blood pressure of the victim. With this effect, the predator most likely becomes distraught from the rapid drop in blood pressure and releases the fang blenny from any harm. As seen on the rotating image on the left, these fangs in the fish are no joke!
 
Image result for fang blennyThe actual extraction of the venom was analyzed as an enzyme, neuron signaling molecule, and opioid. This fang blenny is one of the very first fish to be identified with such unique toxin characteristics. Several tests were conducted on mice to test the overall effect of the venom from the fang blenny. Like previously discovered, the mice suffered sudden and drastic drops in blood pressure by nearly 40 percent! This sudden and large decrease in blood pressure typically leaves humans light-headed, but this is very hard to see within other predator species besides movement analysis. So, before you mess with the cute little guy in your class, be careful because he might be as dead as this tiny fang blenny!

Posted by Andrew Do (Group A - Week 7)
Source of article:
highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

Source of images:
https://static01.nyt.com/science/gifs/Blenny.gif

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d1/Striped_poison_fang_blenny_-_Meiacanthus_grammistes.jpg





16 comments:

  1. This is really interesting! How big is this fish? It looks to only be an inch or two long. That's surprising it gives such a toxic dose. The colors (yellow and black stripes) are interesting since poisonous snakes seem to have similar patterns. I wonder why that is, seems strange it would arise in two completely unrelated species!

    Posted by Caitlin Lohr

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    1. As you were saying about size, it seems like some of the smallest creatures give the most toxic doses!

      Posted by Anna Potorski

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    2. The fish is merely only a couple of inches, typically 2-3 inches in length. However, like Anna was saying that it's not always the size of the creature and some of the most toxic animals are in fact tiny! Thinking about varying species of spiders and how toxic they can be is relatable to the size of this fang blenny. The most interesting part is the fact that it's in a species of fish, as it is most rare in marine animals unlike snakes.

      Posted by Andrew Do

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  2. This is a pretty cool way for them to protect themselves since they are such small fish. I wonder if they just cause a temporary decrease in blood pressure or do they result in the death of their victim? Also, is there an anti-venom in case people are exposed? I also wonder how common it is for people to fall victim to this small fish.

    Posted by Ana Carolina Nepomuceno

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    1. The article was saying how this is most likely a defense mechanism for a brief moment and the predator releases the fish from it's mouth. However, death could be likely if the toxin level was high enough. I don't believe there are any anti-venoms or any cases of human encounter to this fish's poison as it is mostly a defense mechanism from deep sea predators.

      Posted by Andrew Do

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  3. This is a very interesting article. It's so surprising that such a small fish can have such a large effect on a predator. I wonder if this fish uses its toxin as a way to hunt food or if it's mainly an escape tactic.

    Posted by Hannah Jordan (B)

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    1. I believe it's just an escape tactic! But it would be really interesting to see this fish administer the venom to smaller species like shrimp if they do not already do so.

      Posted by Andrew Do

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  4. This is cool and creepy because I would never expect a fish that looked like that to have such a characteristic! Definitely cute but deadly. I like Caitlin's comment about the stripe colors. I wonder why they developed such colors and the toxic fangs. Do both somehow have to do with the other (form of attracting prey, mates, etc)?

    Posted by Natalie Nou (group c)

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    1. It never mentioned how their patterns arose, whether it was evolutionary for prey or mating. Not all these fang blenny species are toxic though, which is what I found fascinating.

      Posted by Andrew Do

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  5. Wow, it is so interesting to see how a fish so small and colorful can be so dangerous. It also amazes me how only thirty percent of the fang blenny's can have the poisonous venom in their teeth, where the other seventy percent are free from being poisonous. This fish is so small, yet the venom it has can compare to a black mamba or a cobra. When this fish attacks and goes for the bite, it can make your blood pressure drop instantly, causes humans to get light headed fast.

    Posted by Givenchy Humes (group b)

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    1. That is true, the fish is tiny but contains such deadly toxins. The only wonder I have is how much of an effect this fang blenny poison has in large doses to humans or any larger predator.

      Posted by Andrew Do

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  6. The bright colors of the fish seem reoccurring for venomous species all throughout nature, from snakes to frogs to caterpillars. Poisonous species often use bright colors as a warning to predators, so that might be reason why the fish is so brightly striped. It also looks very small in the pictures, and you mentioned that the effects of the venom were tested on mice, so I'm curious if the venom would have a similar effect on humans since we are a much larger species?

    Posted by Jordan Milone (C)

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    1. I believe if the ratio of venom administered to the mouse is proportional when a human is exposed to the toxin then the effect would be the same. It's hard to say, because it appears not many cases of fang blenny attacks have occurred as opposed to other animals like snakes.

      Posted by Andrew Do

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  7. Venomous fish have always fascinated me. This tiny fish has a venom potent enough to cause discomfort for human so it makes sense that it could be strong enough to kill a mouse. I was in Belize over spring break and one of the most venomous fish, a lionfish, has a sting so painful that you could drown out of shock. It's very interesting to see fish use venom as a defense mechanism, because people usually associate it with spiders or snakes.

    Posted by Peter Makhoul (C)

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    1. Exactly, not many people know that there are many poisonous species of fish because it is quite rare. The mechanism behind fish that sting instead of biting to administer their toxin is different, but the effect is similar in all cases. This fang blenny's poison is interesting because it seems like it doesn't kill it's predator but warns it off with the sudden blood pressure drop.

      Posted by Andrew Do

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  8. I found this post very interesting! I wonder how this fish evolved this particular mechanism for injecting venom, especially when it isn't how most known poisonous fish do so. They look very cute and innocent, but you're right, clearly they aren't!

    Posted by Jenna Lansbury

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