A thrilling tale of encounters with nature's masters of biochemistry.
In Venomous, molecular biologist Christie Wilcox investigates venoms and the animals that use them, revealing how they work, what they do to the human body, and how they can revolutionize biochemistry and medicine today.
Wilcox takes us from the coast of Indonesia to the rainforests of Peru in search of the secrets of these mysterious animals. We encounter jellyfish that release microscopic venom-packed darts known to kill humans in just two minutes, a two-inch caterpillar with toxic bristles that trigger hemorrhaging throughout the body, and a stunning blue-ringed octopus with saliva capable of inducing total paralysis. How could an animal as simple as a jellyfish evolve such an intricate, deadly poison? And how can a snake possess enzymes that tear through tissue yet leave its own body unscathed?
Wilcox meets the fearless scientists who often risk their lives studying these lethal beasts to find out and puts her own life on the line to examine these species up close. Drawing on her own research on venom chemistry and evolution, she also shows how venom is helping us untangle the complex mechanisms of some of our most devastating diseases.
Venomous reveals that the animals we fear the most actually hold the keys to a deeper understanding of evolution, adaptation, and immunity. Thrilling and surprising at every turn, Venomous will change the way you think about our natural world.
©2016 Christie Wilcox (P)2016 Random House Audio
This book is an incredible eye-opener in to the world of poisonous and venomous creatures.
Firstly I didn't know there were so many animals who use chemicals for attack and defence, predator and prey. The more we learn the more we see how not only a great proportion of living organisms use chemicals for destructive purposes, but also the great variety in the way they are used.
As many ways there are to use chemicals to do harm, nature has harnessed, and fine tuned this ability to an unimaginable level, where a boxer jellyfish no bigger than a couple of centimetres, can kill instantaneously by just touching.
The compounds created have evolved over billions of years and are at such a complexity, that one can only look in awe at natures labs and wonder how deep the rabbit hole goes. Symbiotic relationships create targeted chemicals, purposefully adapted and used. Not all toxins are the same, and not all toxins are made to kill.
Christie Wilcox, obviously an expert in this specialised field, has managed to explain a difficult subject of chemicals used by predictor and prey in a very engaging manner.
Highly recommended for those that want to delve further in to the wondrous variety of toxins naturally created by animals, and what it means for their application in the pharmaceuticals industry.
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