When the genome of the king cobra was decoded, its findings were published in 2013 by a team lead by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The study authors hailed the DNA clues that shed light on the evolution of complex toxins that are “required to overcome a variety of different prey and also circumvent any resistance to venom that may have developed in such prey.” Snake venom is a dynamic chemical weapon system that co-evolves with the defences of its prey. Not only that but trying to understand snake poison gives insights on the evolution of all proteins -- the stuff of life itself, according to the researchers. Those snakes on the ancient symbol of the Hypocrattic Oath, are beginning to make more sense to me, as I’m sure sure the biologists at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine would appreciate.
The snake’s value to medicine may yet be understood better in the future, but in the traditional Chinese market it has a clear commercial price-tag worth several thousand dollars.