In this week's edition of "Almost Unbearably Creepy," we investigate cone snails that release weaponized insulin into the water to stun their prey. The prey, which is often a fish, experiences a sudden crash in blood sugar levels; they can't summon the energy required to swim away and are eaten alive in the cone snail's "very large mouth."
If for some reason you want to watch this happening, check out the video at this link:
Researchers are investigating the form of insulin produced by cone snails, hoping to uncover more information about diabetes. Medical applications from cone snails are far from unusual: other compounds produced by the diverse and intriguing cone snails have myriad applications as surgical relaxants, early interventions after strokes or heart attacks, sodium-blocker treatments for multiple sclerosis, and more. One type of venom helped researchers develop a painkiller (ziconotide) that is 1,000 times more potent than morphine. Even better: this pain reliever is not addictive!
Nature has been tinkering around with the production of different compounds for millions of years, and the possible applications-- to medicine, engineering, and more-- are nigh limitless. The more we open our eyes to understand the natural word, the better off we all will be.
Thanks to First Lieutenant Kiley Hunkler for sending along this article.
At least two species of cone snailhave turned insulin into an underwater weapon, a new study finds. When these stealthy aquatic snails approach their prey, they release insulin, a hormone that can cause blood sugar levels to plummet. Nearby fish don't stand a chance. The sudden influx of insulin can enter their gills and get into their bloodstream. Within moments, they don't have the energy to swim away to escape being eaten alive.