Image: Jiayi Jin
With a name like the "assassin bug," this little insect better has something really awesome to live up to the badass moniker.
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And it does: in a research paper recently published in Nature Communications, entomologist Andrew Walker and colleagues at the University of Queensland, Australia, discovered that the assassin bug Pristhesancus plagipennis has not only one venom, but two distinct ones stored in separate glands.
“We wanted to see if assassin bugs had venom that was similar in composition to other venomous animals due to convergent evolution, or if the different feeding physiology would result in a different composition,” [Walker] said. And when their research began, essentially no one has looked at their venoms—”almost nothing was known about them.”
But what they found was much more surprising: the animals are equipped with two different venoms, which are made and stored in distinct compartments—a first for any venomous animal.
Christine Wilcox of Science Sushi has the intriguing story of the dual-venomed assassin bug.