Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry

Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry

A thrilling tale of encounters with nature’s masters of biochemistry

From the coasts of Indonesia to the rainforests of Peru, venomous animals are everywhere—and often lurking out of sight. Humans have feared them for centuries, long considering them the assassins and pariahs of the natural world.

Now, in Venomous, the biologist Christie Wilcox investigates and illuminates the animals of our nightmares, arguing that they hold the keys to a deeper understanding of evolution, adaptation, and immunity. She reveals just how venoms function and what they do to the human body. With Wilcox as our guide, we encounter a jellyfish with tentacles covered in stinging cells that can kill humans in minutes; a two-inch caterpillar with toxic bristles that trigger hemorrhaging; and a stunning blue-ringed octopus capable of inducing total paralysis. How do these animals go about their deadly work? How did they develop such intricate, potent toxins? Wilcox takes us around the world and down to the cellular level to find out.

Throughout her journey, Wilcox meets the intrepid scientists who risk their lives studying these lethal beasts, as well as “self-immunizers” who deliberately expose themselves to snakebites. Along the way, she puts her own life on the line, narrowly avoiding being envenomated herself. Drawing on her own research, Wilcox explains how venom scientists are untangling the mechanisms of some of our most devastating diseases, and reports on pharmacologists who are already exploiting venoms to produce lifesaving drugs. We discover that venomous creatures are in fact keystone species that play crucial roles in their ecosystems and ours—and for this alone, they ought to be protected and appreciated.

Thrilling and surprising at every turn, Venomous will change everything you thought you knew about the planet’s most dangerous animals.

Title:Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780374712211
Format Type:

    Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry Reviews

  • carol.

    First of all, let's just knock it off with those subtitles, shall we? Because I am so tired of having to rewrite them in my head. If you took all the biochemistry in this book and distilled it, I thin...

  • Jennifer

    This is a great idea for a book, and it has almost everything - cool animals, solid science, anecdotes of all-too-close encounters, plenty of enthusiasm. The main thing Venomous is missing is good wri...

  • Jim

    Several reviews said Wilcox was no Mary Roach. I agree that she's not quite as funny, but she is entertaining & interesting. I was more worried that I might get lost because of too many scientific ter...

  • Andrew

    Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry by Christie Wilcox, is a brief and interesting look at various venomous species of animals, how they operate, and how they interact with...

  • TheSkepticalReader

    3.5 starsThe writing of this book won’t appeal to everyone. Wilcox kind of writes like she’s one of your friends who’s recounting a handful of interesting stories; there will be some anecdotal m...

  • Paul

    I didn't plan for this to be a Halloween read, but Christie Wilcox's lively, engaging study of venomous animals gave me the creeps a time or two. Wilcox is an excellent science writer, able to cogentl...

  • Allie

    This rating/review is based on an ARC from the publisher sent to my work (the public library).Mary Roach this is not. There is definitely some really interesting and fun stuff in here, but also a ton ...

  • Renay

    This was fascinating but it's not a book for someone without a basic grasp of biological terms. On the other hand, if you're okay with skipping all the technical language and examples, it's great!...

  • Sookie

    I was surprised how engaging this book was. There is a lot to learn here, obviously, but Wilcox plays this "friendly scientist" trope that works in her favor. In some instances the reading is slowed d...

  • Bonnie

    I have a deep fascination with venomous creatures. Thus, when I located this book at the Daviess County Library, I, of course, checked it out. From the Coasts of Indonesia to the rainforests of Peru, ...