Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry
by Christie Wilcox
Straus and Giroux, 2016. 236 pages. Non Fiction
Did you know that the Amazonian bullet ant has the most painful sting of any creature on Earth? Or that a male platypus has venomous barbs on their hind legs? Want to know the difference between venom and poison, or why animals evolved to be venomous in the first place? Author Christie Wilcox will take you on a journey around the world, presenting the most venomous creatures in land and sea.
Wilcox describes the chemical makeup of venom and its effects on the body, as well as the evolutionary pressures behind the existence of these toxins. The text can be jargon heavy, but the author balances it out with interesting anecdotes of peoples’ experiences with bad stings and bites.
My favorite part of this book (besides the gory anecdotes of course) was learning about the contributions venom has played in the medical world. Wilcox refers to certain venoms as “lethal lifesavers” due to their potential as medical treatments. Cone snail venom is used in a medically well-known drug used to treat diabetes. Venomous leeches are used in treatments when blood clots need to be avoided. Cobra venom is a popular black market painkiller in many parts of Asia, and some people even self-administer snake venoms with the belief that it boosts the immune system! This book is a fascinating and fun read for anyone that wants to learn more about venom!