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Publisher's Summary

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

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Well worth reading

I read slot of biology and this provided fresh new interest in a great area of study. Medicine has a lot to learn and gain from billions of years of evolutionary pharmaceuticals.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • CXP
  • La Jolla, CA, United States
  • 11-03-16

Worth reading. Interesting and informative

There is a lot of interesting info in this book and it is reasonably well written. Far from a stunning book. but well worth your time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I've been stung

This book is wonderfully written. Technical and bizarre information is presented in a way that is interesting and impactful.

Now I must learn more about these jewel wasps!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Left me thoroughly wanting to know more.

Gives insightful information and breaks down what I can only imagine are very complicated topics into relatable terms. I thought this book would serve to lull me to sleep on a five hour flight but ended it up piquing my interest and keeping me listening the whole flight. I'm left wanting to know more and will probably listen to this again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Primordial chemical warfare

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.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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fantastic topic

Great book, super interesting and enjoyable. If you're interested in venoms this is your book

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I love nature!

Thank you, Christie, for such a wonderful book and taking us into the diverse world of venom!!

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  • Noel Leon
  • New York, NY United States
  • 03-02-17

Fascinating subject, well written and superbly presented

Learned many interesting facts about venomous animals including the platypus; and the part about the role in medicine is interesting.

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Interesting, engagingand curiously personal

Interesting tidbits about poisonous and venomous animals, the biotoxins that relates to them and the ways in which they interact or have interacted with humankind through history. Recommended for anyone with an interest in the chemistry or biology surrounding toxins.

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Emily is amazing

Would you listen to Venomous again? Why?

Yes, good information presented in a bright, happy way.

What other book might you compare Venomous to and why?

The Emperor of all maladies. Science with heart and compassion.

What about Emily Rankin’s performance did you like?

Lively, the right emphasis, interested in what she is reading, Involved in the story.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Lady with lime disease bitten by African killer bees.

Any additional comments?

Thank you for the work making this book.