Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beautful, Slippery, Killers. (Or, the Post Where I Reveal That I Take a Spoonful of Morbidity With My Tea Every Afternoon.)

Yesterday I met with the Biology and Chemistry librarian, Amanda.  We went over collection development for her fields and then she showed me the cool stuff.  Like, the chemistry drawing software program that allows students to construct molecules and watch them in action.  These are great teaching tools, but can be quite expensive.  Amanda purchased Symx Draw with the library's chemistry budget, though it can only be used on one computer at the library.  This is what it looks like in action. (Click the image to watch a tutorial.)

Then Amanda showed me some of the print sources, where she pointed out one title that I couldn't resist pulling off the shelf to share with you.  The book?  Poisonous and Venomous Marine Animals of the World.  Sweet! The book was published in 1988 and I can't help but wonder how many of the species mentioned in the book may now be extinct. Nevertheless,  I wanted to know what I might be up against next time I'm diving around in the warm waters of Aruba  (I say "next time" like I've been to Aruba and am planning a trip in the fall. If wishes were horses...  -sigh- ) This one, the "Solaster papposus" will kill your cat.  (No seriously, that's what it says in the book.)
Solaster Papposus or CAT KILLER, as this pretty but EVIL starfish should actually be called. 

Direct quote: "This starfish produces a poison that causes convulsions, paralysis, AND DEATH IN CATS and other laboratory animals" (phylum echinodermata, p. 61)  As a cat lover, I'm disturbed. How did they figure this out?  Was it when Mr. Whiskers was on a scuba vacation from the lab? Doubtful. 

Here's one that cats, dogs, humans, ocelots, and the three toed sloth, should watch out for... the Chironex fleckeri Southcott.  Don't let the latin fool you, 'cause this ain't no fancy-pants, this is a cold-blooded killer.
Quote: "This is probably the most dangerous venomous marine animal known. It may cause death WITHIN A PERIOD OF SECONDS to several minutes... The extreme rapidity of action of the poison frequently PRECLUDES OPPORTUNITY for TREATMENT of the victim."  !!! Eeeek!   I just hung up my scuba gear. (4Eva -which I'm on my way to getting tattooed on my belly.)

Cool book!

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