Two Hated Creepy-Crawlies Share A Similar Venom
What do spiders and centipedes have in common? Well, if you read the title then you should know that the answer is “venom”. Other than this one similarity, spiders are nothing like centipedes. A spider has eight legs, and centipedes have too many legs to count. Spiders and centipedes did, indeed, share a common ancestor, but that was four hundred million years ago. Since then, both of these creatures have adapted well to their environments. Spiders have many species belonging to it, and so do centipedes, so finding similarities between these two critters is nearly impossible. But they are both considered arthropods, and they both possess venom with nearly identical proteins.
According to University of Queensland structural biologist Glenn King, convergent evolution has resulted in similar venom being found in two completely different species. The hobo spider possesses a protein in its venom that many species of centipede also possess, and this protein is very similar to the hormone that was responsible for driving the evolution of these two creatures. However, the proteins genetic sequence does not match the other sequence, but King insists that is normal. The proteins are similar enough in structure that a common ancestor is undeniable. Basically, this shared protein proves that centipedes and spiders were born out of the same organism. King claims that it is important to find similarities in the structure of proteins, and not just in the genetic sequences. King said that after genetic sequencing was performed, the two creatures appeared to have no similarities, but analyzing the structure of the proteins within the venom showed marked similarities.
The research team is focused on using this knowledge to further medical science. Some venoms are already used within the medical setting, and for a variety of reasons. The researchers are also exploring the proteins application in agriculture.
Have you ever taken a medication that was made with arthropod venom? If you have, then what type of arthropod venom was the medication made from?
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