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Marshal Hedin Two groups of highly venomous spiders might be seeing more of each other at family reunions. A new study led by San Diego State University biologist Marshal Hedin has found that two lineages of dangerous arachnids found in Australia—long classified as distantly related in the official taxonomy—are, in fact, relatively close cousins.
The findings could help in the development of novel antivenoms, as well as point to new forms of insecticides. The spiders in question are those from the families Atracinae and Actinopodidae and include Australian funnel-web spiders and eastern Australian mouse spiders, respectively.
One member of Atracinae, Atrax robustus, is considered by many to be the most venomous spider in the world. Historically, the spiders were thought to have diverged from a common ancestor more than million years ago and therefore were only distantly related.
Based on their anatomy and other traits, funnel-web spiders and mouse spiders closely resemble other species of spiders known to be distantly related.
Yet based on their highly similar venom—the same antivenom can treat bites from both Atricinae and Actinopodidae —many biologists suspected these spider groups might be more closely related than previously thought.
Then the scientists sequenced large chunks of the spiders' genomes, looking for genetic patterns that would reveal how the species are related to one another.
After this analysis, the researchers discovered that the Australian funnel-web spiders and mouse spiders were, in fact, fairly closely related, although it's unclear exactly when they diverged from a common ancestor. In addition to solving that mystery, Hedin and colleagues discovered the existence of three entirely new taxonomic families of spiders.
The researchers published their findings last month in Nature Scientific Reports. Online taxonomy databases have already begun updating to reflect these changes, Hedin said.
In addition, funnel-web and mouse spider venom is notable for containing many different types of peptide molecules, including some that specifically target insects. Knowing more about how their venom evolved could help bioengineers to design bio-insecticides that target insects but are harmless to vertebrate animals.Sir Crocodile is the former president of the mysterious crime syndicate Baroque Works, the main antagonist of the Alabasta Arc, and the central antagonist of the Alabasta Saga.
He is one of the longest running and most noteworthy primary adversaries of the series, as he was the first enemy to.
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