Magazine article Newsweek

Killer Centipede Murders Mice in 30 Seconds with Spasm-Inducing 'Spooky Toxin' Also Fatal to Humans; If You See This Centipede, Stay Away

Magazine article Newsweek

Killer Centipede Murders Mice in 30 Seconds with Spasm-Inducing 'Spooky Toxin' Also Fatal to Humans; If You See This Centipede, Stay Away

Article excerpt

Byline: Meghan Bartels

Updated | If many-legged critters make you squeamish, buckle up, because you probably haven't seen the most terrifying stuff centipedes have on offer, like deadly venom that can kill a mouse in just 30 seconds. Now scientists have started to unravel the golden head centipede's deadly secrets in a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

There are plenty of new venoms being discovered all the time thanks to ever-developing technology that can analyze ever-smaller doses of venom, Mande Holford, a chemist who studies snail venoms at Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center who wasn't involved in the study, told Newsweek. But this team didn't just point the finger--"then they also figured out how to stop it from happening," she added.

That's particularly impressive given that the insect's venom might make it the most efficient venomous predator out there, study co-author Shilong Yang, who studies venoms at Kunming Institute of Zoology in China, wrote to Newsweek. The mice Yang watched centipedes kill were a whopping 15 times larger than the terrifying bugs.

But even if you aren't a big fan of mice either, don't cheer just yet: The centipedes, which live in China and Hawaii, have been known to bite humans as well, sometimes fatally. So the researchers behind the new paper wanted to figure out what precisely in their venom is so deadly. They identified a new toxin, which they dubbed Ssm Spooky Toxin and which they say doesn't look like any known venom scientists have identified. …

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