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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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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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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Wow!

Very informative and insightful. I enjoyed the fusion of history, science and culture behind venoms and the animals that produce them. Highly recommended!

1 of 1 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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  • 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 3 people found this review helpful

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Fun and informative

I was especially interested in those that slowly build their tolerance to venom. I appreciated the stories of the creatures and the people that have interacted with them.

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Perfect read for the perpetual learners

Christie Wilcox does a wonderful job of mixing scientific information with fun/interesting facts about toxic creatures.

I loved learning the difference between venomous and poisonous animals; how both hematoxins and neurotoxins can vary in their compositions and potency depending on what it’s used for; and how we can harness the power of say scorpion venom, to aid in pediatric brain surgery.

If you’re in need of an interesting non-fiction read, I definitely recommend. Great narration as well.


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excellent primer on venom

An excellent primer on venomous animals and their potential for medical treatments. not too many gorey examples, but enough for this to be a fun and informative audiobook.

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fantastic topic

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