All cephalopods are venomous

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All cephalopods are venomous

April 13, 2009 - 01:10
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A study has discovered all octopuses, cuttlefish and some squid are venomous.

While the blue-ringed octopus remain the only species dangerous to humans, other groups have been quietly using their venom for predation a study by scientists from the University of Melbourne, University of Brussels and Museum Victoria finds.

The Common Octopus, Octopus vulgaris.

A broad study of cephalopods - more commonly known as octopuses, cuttlefish and squid - has show that they all possessed toxic proteins that performed functions such as paralysing the nervous system of prey.

The scientits analysed tissue samples from cephalopods from Hong Kong, the Coral Sea, the Great Barrier Reef and Antarctica.

The different species' genes were then studied for venom protection and it was found that a venomous ancestor produced one set of venom proteins, but over time additional proteins had added to the chemical arsenal.

The way to new drugs

One of the lead scientists behind the study, Bryan Fry from the University of Melbourne explains that these venoms remained an untapped resource for drug development.

We hope that by understanding the structure and mode of action of venom proteins we can benefit drug design for a range of conditions such as pain management, allergies and cancer," Dr Fry said.

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