A recent report identified a toxin that allows venomous centipedes to kill prey of over 15 times their size.
The majority of predators hunt prey that is smaller than them. After all, attacking an animal that is larger puts the predator at a disadvantage and could end up turning out badly – even causing death if things went awry. Centipedes, however, take on prey that is much larger than they are due to a toxin that was recently a identified by a team of Chinese researchers.
Shilong Yang, an expert in venom and toxins based out of the Kunming Institute of Zoology in China, published a report on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that detailed the toxin that gives centipedes the ability to take on prey many times their size.
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The toxic molecule was isolated, and named Ssm Spooky Toxin. The golden head centipede has the scientific name Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans, which explains the Ssm part of the name. The centipedes’ toxin functions by blocking the movement of potassium into and out of mammal cells. Cells that are functioning normally need the flow of potassium ions in order to contr