Inspired by The Power of Poison, this year’s Origami Tree features a collection of nearly 800 wicked, wild, and wonderful origami models, including this cobra.
Fun fact: doctors are testing the venom of the India monocellate cobra (Naja kaouthia) for use against arthritis. It has been used as a traditional remedy against the ailment for thousands of years.
See more amazing models here.
Among the Museum library’s rare books is a silk-covered album containing over 100 beautiful hand-painted butterflies on a dozen plates produced sometime between 1830 and 1871.
A fine example of Chinese trade art intended for Western consumption, the book is important for two reasons.
Keep reading here.
Name: Hemlock (Conium maculatum)
Also Known As: Poison Hemlock, Devil’s Bread, Beaver Poison, or Poison Parsley
Found in: Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Hemlock grows near streams and pools of standing water, especially along the borders of pastures and cropland.
This toxin disrupts messages between the nervous system and the muscles, causing “ascending muscular paralysis.” Within hours after consumption the heartbeat slows, and paralysis begins in the lower legs, moving up to the waist and lungs. The mind remains alert until death is very near.
Poison Plus: In 339 BC, after being accused of corrupting young Athenians with his radical ideas, the philosopher Socrates was sentenced to the death penalty—a cupful of poison hemlock.
Learn more in The Power of Poison.
From the Archives: Kids visit Cold Hands, Cold Feet, a temporary exhibition on view in 1956 that told the “story of how man has managed to keep his extremities warm in winter.”
A mountain lion for your Monday
These flower-like anemones are no shrinking violets—they’re deadly predators. Without the ability to see or swim, they rely on their poisonous tentacles to snare prey. (Don’t worry, clownfish have a special adaptation—a thick layer of mucus—that protects them from the anemone’s poison).
And, as it happens, venoms from various anemone species are currently being studied for potential uses to treat cancer (Entacmaea quadricolor), obesity, and multiple sclerosis (Stichodactyla helianthus).
See these colorful creatures in The Power of Poison.
It’s Turkmen Culture Day today at the American Museum of Natural History. See displays of jewelry and traditional clothing, crafts, and live music from Turkmenistan, which was one of the gateways along the legendary Silk Road.
(via Weekend To-Dos at the Museum for 12/7 and 12/8: Origami, Whales, and Turkmen Culture Day)
The venom of the Chilean rose tarantula (Grammostola rosea) contains multiple toxins, which may help it immobilize and digest prey, as well as deter predators. But a bite from this spider would not cause a person serious harm.
In fact, humans might get help from this arachnid: an extract from tarantula venom called GsMtx-4 appears to help regulate heartbeat and may one day be used in medicine. In diseased or damaged hearts, calcium enters heart cells through stretch-activated channels, triggering heart spasms. The spider drug blocks these channels, causing the heart to beat more steadily.
See a live one in The Power of Poison.