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Although everyone is aware of venomous animals, most do not know that they are not a small component of the animal kingdom, but can be found in close to 50% of the major animal phyla. Interestingly, if venoms are evolutionary successful than it would appear logical that all animals should have venoms, while conversely if venoms are unsuccessful, there should be a selective pressure against their retention. As neither of these occur, there must be trade offs for having (or not having) venom.
Projects exist that explore the ecological basis for venom retention, ranging from ontogenetic changes in venom profiles, temporal and spatial changes in venom profiles through to venom types and prey selection, intraspecific venom variation and the costs of producing venom and /or venom apparatus.
On the surface, using venom as a defence or predation strategy seems to be pretty good advantage - but then why aren't we all venomous?
Pintor, A., Krockenberger, A., & Seymour, J.E., 2010. Venom Physiology in a Litter of Common Death Adders (Acanthophis antarcticus) and their Parents. Toxicon. 57(1):68-75.
Pintor, A., Krockenberger, A., & Seymour, J.E. , 2010. Costs of Venom Production In The Common Death Adder. Toxicon. 56(6):1035-1042
Winter, K,L., Isbister, G.K., McGowan, S., Konstantakopoulos, N., Seymour, J.E. , & Hodgson, W.C. 2010 A Pharmacological and Biochemical Examination of the Geographical Variation of Chironex fleckeri Venom Toxicology
Letters, Volume 192, Issue 3, Pages 419-424.
Carrette, T., Alderlsade, P., & Seymour, J.E. 2002. Nematocyst ratio and prey in two Australian cubomedusans, Chironex fleckeri and Chiropsalmus sp. Toxicon. 40(11):1547-1551