This week we interview Dr. Christie Wilcox, author of soon to be released Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry.
You know Christie Wilcox from her excellent writing at Science Sushi, and elsewhere. Christie is an expert on things that make you hurt by biting, stinging, or otherwise injecting horrid venomous compounds into your body. Or the body of some other animal. Or that use venom to avoid being eaten by something.
There are myriad venomous creatures. Some use venom to kill or immobilize their prey, others use venom as a form of protection. Some use venom in ways that do neither, but still play a vital role in the animal’s ecology.
A Popular Strategy for Survival
Using venom is a strategy that has emerged many times in evolution, and venomous behavior drives evolution in other species with which they interact. Indeed, the evolutionary story of venomous adaptations is an excellent area in which to explore co-evolution and evolution in general.
Venomous animals are also the source of mystery and misunderstanding. For example, we speak with Christie about misconceptions about Komodo Dragons and why malaria carrying mosquitos are actually venomous. We also learn how the various venoms work in the body.
We discuss how venomous snakes may have shaped early human evolution (The “Snake Detection Theory,”) the modern practice of self envenomation (so that your pet snake does not eventually kill you), and the use of snake venoms as a recreational drug (not recommended).
And then there is the nearly unbelievable story of the Jeweled Wasp, one of the most macabre stories in all of biology.
Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry will be out in August and is available now for preorder. You can get a print copy, and it is available for the Kindle as well using this link: Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry.