Sunday, October 9, 2011

Creature Feature: Deathstalker.

If you were shocked by the title, you are probably expecting something epic. Without looking the creature up, you probably think that it has skulls, a scythe, or, better yet, flaming skulls and a scythe. The name is that appealing to fans of "darker and edgier." Hell, why isn't this creature blessed with its own heavy metal band, yet?

It already has a B-movie.

Thing is, most venomous animals don't roll that way. Often, the deadliest things are tiny, inconspicuous, and sometimes even cute. The same goes for the deathstalker - you will NEVER see it coming.

From Wikipedia. :)

That's the deathstalker (Leiurus quinquestriatus), the deadliest scorpion in the world. It is native to Israel, Pakistan, Egypt, and other blisteringly-hot, politically-intense areas in that range.  Like most scorpions, it feeds on insects. Watch out for your shoes if you wander into its range.

The deathstalker has the most potent venom of any scorpion. One sting from it contains no less than 5 different neurotoxins. The sting is extremely painful and should be treated as a medical emergency. Antivenin availability varies from place to place, with French and German pharmaceutical companies making it regularly, but NO support from the USFDA. Even with a name like "deathstalker," the sting is only usually fatal to the immune-challenged.

Of course, people want this bugger for more than just antivenin. Along with those neurotoxins, valuable chemical agents dwell in the deathstalker's tail. Chlorotoxin, a peptide, has been shown to help tame brain tumors. A few other chemicals might regulate insulin, making this little scorpion a lifesaver to diabetics.

This does not mean you should keep this scorpion as a pet. Deathstalkers are by no means a beginner's scorpion, but are often sold to anyone willing to pay anyways. Some smart, yet ruthless person figured out that people interested in arachnids miiight just want something called a "deathstalker," regardless of how dangerous it actually was.

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