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There Are Only So Many Ways Animals Can Poison You (Not That That’s Reassuring)

They say that knowledge is power, but we’re certainly not feeling any safer

smithsonian.com

There are plenty of ways to die. You might be crushed, burned, infected, drowned. Or you might run into deadly member of the animal kingdom, which has developed a morbid diversity of death-dealing strategies: biting, clawing, stabbbing, stinging. But while it makes a certain sense that an 800-pound grizzly would be able to take you down, it might be even more terrifying to know that a teeny little insect packing potent venom could do the same.

Though they come in a range of shapes and sizes, venomous animals tend to use their chemical weaponry in just a few ways, says Mark Siddall, an invertebrate zoologist in the video above by the American Museum of Natural History.

These aren't the only ways that animals can poison you, though. The AMNH focused on venomous animals—those that go out of their way to kill using toxin. As Joseph Bennington-Castro points out for io9, venomous and poisonous animals aren't the same thing. Venomous animals use their toxins as an offensive weapon, while poisonous animals use theirs for defense.

So, on top of stingers, spines, fangs and spurs, add to the mix poisonous organs and toxic skins, which kill on contact or consumption. They say that knowledge is power, but we're certainly not feeling any safer.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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