A new venomous species of remipede, Speleonectes tulumensis, has been found and described by science. The new species is the first venomous crustacean and have a venom similar to that found in rattlesnakes.
The new species of remipede seems to have a wide distribution and has been observed in underwater caves located in the Caribbean sea, around the Canary Islands, and off Western Australia. Further research might reveal that this is actually several very similar species.
The species is blind and found in dark caves.
The remipede use its venom to hunt and kill its prey. They mainly feed on other crustaceans. The venom kills the prey and liquifies the soft tissue allowing the remipede to consume it by sucking it out of its prey much like a spider do on land.
Dr Ronald Jenner, a zoologist at London’s Natural History Museum and a co author of the research paper introducing the remipede comments on the discovery by saying:
“The unique insights from this study really help improve our understanding of the evolution of animal venoms.
The spider-like feeding technique of the remipede is unique among crustaceans. This venom is clearly a great adaptation for these blind cave-dwellers that live in nutrient-poor underwater caves.” ..
The discovery was made of a team of scientists consisting of
and was presented in the research article:
The first venomous crustacean revealed by transcriptomics and functional morphology: remipede venom glands express a unique toxin cocktail dominated by enzymes and a neurotoxin
Mol Biol Evol (2013) doi: 10.1093/molbev/mst199
If you want to know more you can find the research paper in the Oxford journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution.