For the first time, scientists have found evidence of snake-like tooth glands in amphibians,media CNET reported. A team of scientists from the Butantan Institute in Brazil and Utah State University found “the first known evidence of the oral toxic glands of amphibians” in the mouth of the tailanimal Siphonops annulatus. This cave animal looks like a cross between a snake and a worm, but it’s related to frogs and dragonflies.
“We know that some amphibians store disgusting, toxic secretions in their skin to stop predators. But it’s extraordinary to know that at least one of the damage that can cause it from its mouth is extraordinary,” Utah State University biologist Edmund ‘Butch’ Brodie, Jr., said in a press release Friday.
The team had previously studied caecilian’s skin glands, but later found what Brodie described as “tiny fluid glands in the upper and lower jaws, with long pipes that open at the bottom of each of their spoon-shaped teeth.” The researchers published their findings Friday in the journal iScience.
Some amphibians, such as the infamous dart frog, are known for secreting toxic substances on their skin. “Toxic skin glands are formed from the epidermis, but these oral glands develop from dental tissue, which is the same developmental origin that we found in the venom glands of reptiles,” said author Pedro Luiz Mailho-Fontana.
The researchers’ next step is to find out if the secretions of the tooth glands are toxic. If so, the researchers believe the venom glands of amphibians may have evolved earlier than snakes.
“Because tailings are one of the least studied vertebrates, their biology is a black box full of surprises,” study co-author Carlos Jared i said in an article.