Knowledge is power. The more we know about the unknown, the less we fear it. Unless we’re talking about venom. Then the more we know, the more all that fear makes perfect sense.
In the above video (which could be considered NSFW), Associate Professor Jamie Seymour of the educational YouTube channel The Nature of Science shows us how three different types of venom work. And, spoiler alert, they’re all terrifying.
In his lesson, Seymour dissects—both figuratively and literally—how the venom of a stonefish, a box jellyfish, and a brown snake affect living organisms. Each type of venom has its own method for turning living, breathing animals into writhing, gasping shadows of their former selves, but they do have one thing in common: if left untreated, they will kill.
The stonefish, for example, delivers its deadly toxin through spines along its back (shown below). And once the venom is delivered, it immediately begins to attack the membranes of cells, causing them to scrunch up and die off.
Using a neurologically deceased toad, Seymour shows off the box jellyfish’s deadly trick: opening up “calcium-ion channels in the heart, [which make] the muscles contract, and [not] release…” This, of course, means that blood stops pumping throughout the body, causing, you guessed it, a horrible death.
And finally, for the pièce de résistance, we see what the venom of the notorious brown snake can do. Using two samples of his own blood, Seymour adds brown snake venom to one sample, while the other remained the control. Just a few seconds after adding the venom to his blood, it turns into a jelly-like substance, thick enough to clog arteries.
Seymour ends the lesson by asking the question: “if [venoms] are so effective, why aren’t more animals venomous?” Maybe, evolutionarily speaking, a little venom goes a long way.
What do you think about Seymour’s “Venom 101” course? Let us know in the comments section below!
Images: The Nature of Science