One thing is consistent, throughout the animal kingdom; no matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing, at any moment, something horribly poisonous could leap up, bite you, and run away, leaving you in agony and making it impossible for you to so much as breathe. And this sounds like a terrible, terrible thing, but it turns out that animal venom might just be the keys to the kingdom when it comes to finding and erasing some of the worst problems humanity faces in the medical realm. Just for examples:
Everybody knows scorpions are dangerous, and since they’re coming up later anyway, we won’t belabor the point. But cone snails are a little more obscure, kind of the Mission of Burma to scorpion’s Clash, and take a little explaining. Essentially, they’re Australian (because all horribly poisonous things come from Australia), really tiny, and shoot darts that will turn you into a gibbering, foaming sack of jelly as it knocks out your muscles. Some places call them “cigarette snails” because if you’ve been stung by one, you’ve got time for a cigarette before the venom punches your ticket.
Fortunately, this venom actually has a use for humans who aren’t supervillains. It turns out that scorpion and cone snail venom can be used to create painkillers 1000 times more effective than morphine and have the added benefit of not being horribly addictive and creating withdrawal. We’d thank you, cone snail, but we’re kind of afraid of you.
There’s not a creature more feared in South America than the pit viper. They’ll drop you faster than a lightning bolt, and you might not see them until you feel the fangs in your flesh. Everybody’s deeply, deeply scared of them in areas where you can find them, and for good reason, because they’ve probably offed somebody you know. But that doesn’t mean these feared killers don’t have health benefits!
It turns out that the pit viper kills by drastically dropping blood pressure. This is how we found the ACE inhibitor currently keeping lots of people from dropping dead due to high blood pressure. Yes, Grandma is essentially taking the venom of one of the most dreaded snakes in the world orally. In fact, it’s keeping her alive more effectively than any other drug on the market! How about them apples?
The funnel-web spider is very, very dangerous. We’re not kidding. We’re actually legally obligated to tell you that if you see a funnel-web, consider walking carefully in the opposite direction to the nearest airport and buy a ticket to the nearest place that will get you the heck away from it and its habitat. Except you can’t, because they’re all over the planet in every location that isn’t covered in ice. Funnel-webs are scary, scary creatures, and their venom is nasty, nasty stuff.
It’s also highly effective at preventing brain damage from strokes. The venom blocks certain neurotransmitters that flood the brain and cause brain damage from oxygen loss. No, you should not feed anybody stroking out to the funnel-web spider. That will just kill them, and get you featured on America’s Dumbest Criminals.