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Cute Fang Blenny Surprises Researchers With Opioid-Laced Fish Venom [VIDEO]

Update Date: Apr 04, 2017 07:09 AM EDT

The diminutive fang blenny surprised researchers when they found that it carried opioid-laced fish venom that it uses to disorient predators. In their study, they were also able to find evidence that it had developed fangs first before having venom during the course of its evolution.

Scientists from different countries were very intrigued with the fang blenny because its bite doesn't cause any pain. The findings of the study showed that the opioid-laced fish venom has compounds that caused a sudden drop in blood pressure that disoriented the predator to allow its escape, the BBC reported.

They have noted that the fang blenny venom contains other potent compounds that include a possible neurotoxin. The tiny fish injects the venom through glands under their fangs and may be able to send more just by biting harder.

The opioid-laced fish venom contained enkephalins, which are proteins that activate opioid receptors. The proteins were discovered when researchers employed microCT scanning and analyzed the genome of the fish and separated the proteins and peptides by running the venom in electric current, Gizmodo reported.

The researchers hope to explore the composition of the venom and find out if it contains compounds that can be used in drugs or a new class of painkillers. But more importantly, they want to highlight in this study that the biodiversity in the corals where these small fish live in holds a lot of undiscovered natural products that man can exploit. That biodiversity though is sadly under threat from rising global temperatures that can cause coral bleaching.

There is only one known venomous blenny species that lives in the Great Barrier Reef so the researchers were pleasantly surprised when they found out that other blenny species mimicked the color patterns of their venomous cousins.

The first observation of the venomous character of the blennies was recorded in the 1970s when the blennies were swallowed by a larger fish. The larger fish then started to quiver, opened its mouth that allowed the blennies to swim away to safety.

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