Watch a Scientist Demonstrate the Different Ways Venom Can Kill

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 snakeand 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.

[h/t Nerdist]

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Focus Features
25 Shelter Dogs Who Made It Big
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Focus Features

If you’ve been thinking of adding a four-legged friend to your brood and are deciding whether a shelter dog is right for you, consider this: Some of history’s most amazing pooches—from four-legged movie stars to heroic rescue dogs—were found in animal shelters. In honor of Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, here are 25 shelter dogs who made it big.

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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]


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