The evolution of super-toxic flesh-eating venom in spitting cobras

Of the nearly 4,000 species known to science, about 600 are venomous, and the vast majority of these use venom to immobilize and digest their prey. But some cobras have independently evolved the ability defend themselves by spitting super-toxic flesh-eating venom at predators. New research reveals the genetic basis of these adaptations, and the driving force behind them.

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The ability to recognize faces is inherited

THE perception and recognition of faces is crucial for the social situations we encounter every day. From the moment we are born, we prefer looking at faces than at inanimate objects, because the brain is geared to perceive them, and has specialized mechanisms for doing so. Such is the importance of the face to everyday life, that we see faces everywhere, even when they are not there.

We know that the ability to recognize faces varies among individuals. Some people are born with prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces, and others acquire the condition as a result of brain damage. At the other end of the scale are people who never forget a face – the so-called “super-recognizers“. Two independent studies published recently now provide strong evidence that the ability to recognize faces is largely inherited, and that it is passed on independently from intelligence and other cognitive functions.

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