Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The birdlike raptor Sinornithosaurus was venomous. 2009. E. Gong, et al. PNAS, Published online before print Dec. 14.

Sinornithosaurus had special depressions on the side of its face thought by the investigators to have housed a poison gland, connected by a long lateral depression above the tooth row that delivered venom to a series of long, grooved teeth on the upper jaw. This arrangement is similar to the venom-delivery system in modern rear-fanged snakes and lizards. The researchers believe it to be specialized for predation on birds.

David A. Burnham, PhD University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute
"You wouldn't have seen it coming," said Burnham. "It would have swooped down behind you from a low-hanging tree branch and attacked from the back. It wanted to get its jaws around you. Once the teeth were embedded in your skin the venom could seep into the wound. The prey would rapidly go into shock, but it would still be living, and it might have seen itself being slowly devoured by this raptor." link