Scientists measure what makes viper fangs so sharp

April 17 (UPI) — In an effort to figure out which physical characteristics best correlate with puncturing performance, scientists chose to study the sharpness of viper fangs.

“Viper fangs are a good case study for examining the effects of shape on sharpness, as they are specialized for puncture,” Philip S. L. Anderson, an assistant professor of integrative biology at the University of Illinois, told UPI. “Lots of animals have sharp teeth, but they often use those teeth for a variety of functions — prey capture, mastication, grooming.”

Viper fangs work like hypodermic needles. They are designed and deployed to puncture the flesh of prey and deliver a lethal dose of venom.

Anderson and his colleagues wanted to know what makes viper fangs so efficient. They set out to measure sharpness.

But what exactly is sharpness?

“This is really the heart of the study, as we didn’t use any definition that was different from what

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