Five Cute Critters That Can Kill You

Five Cute Critters That Can Kill You

SAM: Box jellies can really ruin your day,
possibly… ANDREW: Box jellyfish are not cute. SAM: Andrew! They are cute, they’re very cute. If looks could kill, at least these are really
cute looks. One of these five adorable animals might be the last thing you ever see. Very few mammals are known to be venomous—the
slow loris is one of them. Toxins from one Indonesian species of slow
loris come from a gland on the surface of the slow loris’ arm that they use to chemically
communicate with potential mates. MUSIC: This slow loris, is gonna take it slow. Scientists believe that this sexual gland
secretion could also be helpful for keeping parasites at bay, as well as predators who
can smell it. When slow lorises groom themselves, they lick
that gland, so if they happen to bite you, those toxins will come with its saliva…
which could be toxic on its own. The bite of a slow loris can kill you by giving
you a terrible allergy attack, throwing you into anaphylactic shock. In other words, your immune system, when reacting
to the toxins, releases a bunch of chemicals that make your blood pressure drop suddenly
and cause your airways to narrow. You might feel like you’re suffocating. A big shot of adrenaline, like from an EpiPen,
can be used to stop that scary allergic response, but EpiPens just keep you alive
in that moment—you need to go to the ER immediately because chances are, once the adrenaline wears
off, you could go into anaphylactic shock again. Slow loris sexual gland secretion isn’t
very well understood. So what do we know? It appears to be a chemical concoction of
over 200 compounds. One of these compounds is very similar to
the allergen in cat dander, but way more powerful. That could be because of chemicals from
the sexual gland alone, or because those chemicals mix, or react with others in slow loris saliva. That’s a puzzle scientists are trying
to solve. This greater blue-ringed octopus, found here..
can deliver a bite that’s fatal to humans… although it happens VERY rarely. Its molecule of death is tetrodotoxin, a potent
nerve toxin, found in this cute little octopus’s salivary glands, which are connected to its
beak. Tetrodotoxin works by blocking the activity
of sodium channels in your nerve cells. First this will cause numbness around the
bite, then paralysis, then heart failure. When tetrodotoxin binds to a sodium channel
it prevents sodium ions from moving through the channel, which stops nerve cells from
sending chemical messages to your brain like “body, move!” and “heart, keep pumping
blood!” Maybe the most eerie part of the whole thing
is that a victim can be fully aware of their surroundings but unable to breathe or signal
that they can’t breathe–because they’re paralyzed. Unfortunately, there is no antitoxin, so the
standard treatment is to hook a victim up to a ventilator and monitor their heart rate
until the toxin naturally makes its way out of their system. Victims who live through the first 24 hours
often make a complete recovery. What’s interesting about the greater blue-ringed
octopus’s tetrodotoxin is that the octopus isn’t making it itself. Many researchers believe that bacteria living
in octopuses’ salivary glands produce the toxin. Sounds kinda dangerous for the blue-ringed
octopus itself, right? It actually isn’t a problem–researchers
have found that its own sodium channels have amino acid changes that most likely
prevent tetrodotoxin from binding, which protects the octopus. And that adaptation seems to also be the case
for a bunch of other tetrodotoxin-harboring creatures. The duck-billed platypus is another venom-producing
mammal, but doesn’t get much attention because you probably won’t ever see one. These cuties found here have venom that can
be lethal, but there are no recorded cases of them killing humans. Duck-billed platypus have venom glands connected
to a spur on each of their hind legs. Yep, a spur–it kinda looks like a really
scary claw. And you’ll only find these spurs on males. Male platypuses make more venom during breeding season, which researchers think helps them defend their territory and compete for females. The platypus wraps its hind legs
around its victim, driving in its sharp spurs, and releases venom,
temporarily paralyzing another male platypus in the wild. In captivity, where a platypus can’t escape
attacks as easily, this can be deadly. If a human is stung, that area will swell
and they’ll experience a lot of pain–pain so bad that even morphine won’t relieve
it. Scientists haven’t figured out all the
toxins in duck-billed platypus venom, but we do know that some increase signaling
in neurons that tell your brain you’re feeling pain. Which causes you to feel…pain. So if you find yourself in a fight with a
duck-billed platypus, stay away from those hind legs. Box jellies can really ruin your day–possibly… ANDREW: Box jellyfish are not cute. SAM: ANDREW! They are cute, they’re very cute. Box jellies can really ruin your day, possibly end you life. At this point they’ve killed hundreds of
people. The most dangerous of the box jellies, which
lives here, produces a potent, fast-acting venom that it uses for defense and to catch
prey. A sting from this jelly, at best, will give
you an incredibly painful welt. In fatal cases, people stung die from heart
failure, and that can happen within minutes. The box jelly’s venom is stored and released
by microscopic capsules in its tentacles called nematocysts, but chemists still don’t totally
understand what in that venom kills you. That being said, they’ve found that it contains
a bunch of proteins that cause extreme pain, inflammation and…can make your cells rupture
or split open. So you’ll not only experience swelling where
you’ve been stung, but your skin cells in that area will begin to slough off as they
die. Don’t Google this, it looks rough. The good news: there’s technically an antivenom. You can make it in different ways, but the
first step is always to milk a box jellyfish, which looks like this. Wrong clip Andrew. It looks like this. [sigh] Whatever. Once you’ve got the venom, you inject it
into an animal, then collect the antibodies that pop up when that animal’s immune system
responds. Unfortunately… the antivenom doesn’t always
work. Part of that may be because it can’t be
administered quickly enough, but it’s also hard to create an effective antivenom if you don’t understand what’s actually in the venom to begin with. So, scientists are trying to use gene sequencing
to identify some of the proteins in the venom that might be responsible for killing people,
and then create a more specific antivenom that will–fingers crossed–save lives. Fugu fish are toxic pufferfish, found here, in these genera. They have tetrodotoxin in their system, just like our buddy the blue-ringed octopus. You’ll find it in their intestines, ovaries
and liver. It’s interesting that two of the deadliest
creatures out there actually use the same poison. Now we just need to develop an antitoxin and
kill two birds with one stone or…prevent those birds from killing us? Anyway, tetrodotoxin is actually named after
the family of pufferfish it was first isolated from in the early 1900s. Within a minute of eating poisonous meat you’d
feel numbness and tingling in your mouth and begin to get nauseous. A tiny drop of poison can cause paralysis,
loss of consciousness, and ultimately death…in dozens of people. Fugu fish is considered a delicacy–sometimes
costing close to $200 per dish–and the dangerous thrill of eating it–along with the training
required by chefs who want to serve it–are the main reasons it costs so much. Tetrodotoxin in fugu is still responsible
for multiple deaths every year in Japan. Restaurant preparation of fugu is strictly
controlled and, like I mentioned, chefs are required to have specific qualifications and
years of training to prepare it. But tetrodotoxin might not be all-bad: There’s
now research looking at its potential use–at very, very small doses–in pain relief. Part of what makes it appealing as a pain-reliever
is that it’s not an opioid. Opioids like morphine are commonly used for
pain relief but they’re notoriously addictive. So, there you have it–nature’s ultimate
reminder to not judge a book by its cover. Even if that book is very cute, it could
kill you. Sound Field is a new music education show
from PBS Digital Studios that explores the music theory, production, history and culture
behind our favorite songs and musical styles. Pop, classical, rap, jazz, electronic, folk,
country and more — Sound Field covers it all. Hosted by two supremely talented musicians,
Arthur “LA” Buckner and Nahre Sol, every episode is one part video essay and
one part musical performance. You’ll find a link to Sound Field in the
description below.

11 thoughts on “Five Cute Critters That Can Kill You”

  1. 4/5 of the animals are connected to Australia. Time and again the saying "Everything In Australia Will Try And Kill You"is proven true. I love living in Australia. I had a Large Wolf Spider on my crotch while I was streaming some game play one time. I saved the clip of it. I was surprised I acted so calm. calmish If you want to see the footage of the spider check my youtube playlist "Funny and Awesome" you will know what clip to look for.

  2. I just GOTTA tell you guys 3 things

    1st Yaaaaaaaaaaaay my favourite octopuss finally is on the show

    2nd I LOVE this shirt
    SO CUTE!!!!!

    3rd And most importantly Boxjellys ARE cute

  3. Another adorable animal that didn’t make today’s list: the golden poison frog. This tiny creature’s skin is covered in fluid that contains batrachotoxin, which will paralyze and maybe even kill you. Learn more about it in this video:

  4. Excuse us, we take offense to your pie chart. Also–source where I can find some more photos of that fine looking platypus?

  5. I would have appreciated a better explanation of how venoms can be used as anti-venoms, now I'll have to go research that lol

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