Even if you don't know exactly how it works, you probably know that venom is something you don't want to mess with. The deadly substance can be found in the spines, teeth, and stingers of a number of animals and is capable of killing victims in different ways.
In this video from the YouTube channel The Nature of Science, toxinologist Jamie Seymour compares the venom from four different animals—a stonefish, an irukandji jellyfish, a box jellyfish, and a brown snake—and uses four different experiments to test their effects.
The venom of a stonefish is injected into its prey through spines along its back. In order to demonstrate its impact, Seymour adds a drop of this venom to a sample of heart cells. As soon as he does this, the cells wither up and die.
The tiny irukandji jellyfish also has venom that packs a powerful punch. One sting from this little animal can cause excruciating pain throughout the body, which scientists suspect works by increasing your adrenaline levels for a sustained amount of time.
To test the potency of the box jellyfish's venom, Seymour uses the still-beating heart of a neurologically dead toad. After injecting it with box jellyfish venom, the heart eventually goes rigid and white until it stops beating altogether. The venom achieves this by opening up calcium-ion channels in the heart, which causes the organ's muscles to contract without releasing.
The last animal Seymour looks at is the venomous brown snake, and to demonstrate its deadly capabilities, Seymour uses a sample of his own blood. One squirt of the snake's venom causes it to coagulate into a jelly-like substance in a matter of seconds.
These effects are terrifying, but some researchers are trying to use them for good. Knowledge of how snake venom is able to thicken blood in humans could help scientists prevent disease-related blood clots in the future. You can check out The Nature of Science's full video above.
Banner/header images courtesy of The Nature of Science via YouTube.