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Published on August 4th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie

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Why Animal Extinction Is Costing Us Dearly

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We are in an age of unprecedented technology. We may be even entering a phase in computer history when Moore’s famous law of computer processing power doubling every 18 months is blown out of the water by a new type of processing substrate.

Despite all of these advances we are losing many invaluable animals. Finally, people are beginning to understand why it is so important that we try to preserve as many creatures as possible. If we don’t, we may be losing out on something that could potentially change the future history of humanity.

Many of the exciting discoveries in medicine are coming from unusual sources, creatures that are generally associated with pain and death, the world of the venomous.

Black Wishbone Spider Photo By Steven Clark

The animal kingdom contains fatal organisms that can kill several people with a tiny amount of venom. Creatures such as spiders, snakes and box jellyfish can kill their prey within minutes. These living things have evolved deadly biological weapons to gain advantage over other species. Thus preserving their kind in the ultimate battle of survival.

The Vehement Nature Of Venom

The effects of venom are highly varied. They can affect the nervous system, vital organs, cause muscle paralysis, red blood cells to explode, severe neurological trauma and the heart to stop beating.

Two characteristics of venom make it lethal, the first is how quickly it acts and the second is how it works. Once injected with venom the effects of the toxin on the victim can be almost instantaneous. Venom is really a collection of proteins which are a vital component of biological systems. Proteins dictate how cells function and can control entire body systems. Venom proteins immediately interfere in the body’s natural processes and essentially reprogramme cells.

Box Jellyfish Photo By Guido Gautsch

Venom A Game-Changer For Humanity

Venomous creatures may have thousands of different toxic strains delivering all of them in one bite or sting. Some of these strains may be highly beneficial and it is more than likely that some contain cures to many of the problems that plague human beings. Already snake bite venom from a South American rattle snake has proved invaluable for treating patients with heart conditions.

However, we have not even begun to tap into the vast potential of venom. Scientists have realistic expectations that venom will contain the cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s syndrome.

Stretching out into the future, there may be more revolutions in health care and human development with venom at the core. Some strains of venom may be able to limit human ageing and prolong our lifespan.

All of these developments seemed so far away but the emergence of two things have meant that we are now on the cusp of solving such previously overwhelming problems. These are our increased computer processing power and a better scientific understanding of biological systems. Without either, this leap in human health would not have been possible.

Shanghai, China

Losing Potential Miracles Through Extinction

There is one major concern that may jeopardise all of these potential breakthroughs and that is the fact that we are losing many of these species to extinction. Unless we protect these creatures and do everything in our power to prevent their demise – some strains of beneficial venom may be lost forever.

For every species of insect, snake or other animal that dies off, potential benefits to humanity die with them. It is finally starting to dawn on people that they we are losing much more than creatures that, on first glance, appear to be irrelevant to us.

Highly Recommended

Venom: Nature’s Killer is a highly interesting voyage into the world of the toxic. Well-made the documentary explores the tremendous potential venom can provide mankind.

You can obtain Nova: Venom: Nature’s Killer from Amazon here.


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