Another Public Service Announcement, with Bonus Travel Tips.
Dr. Jennifer Smith, a research officer at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, is one of the authors of a recent Australian study that found certain peptides—the building blocks of proteins—contained in spider venom could lead to developing new types of painkillers.
It appears that “Scientists in Australia, home to some of the most poisonous creatures on Earth, have made an important discovery about spider venom that eventually could lead to a new class of painkillers.” Australia, we are informed, is a natural fit for this research. Dr. Smith said, “We have a plethora of really good venomous animals: You name it we’ve got it, pretty much. Australia is the venom land.”
In case it isn’t clear, Australia is filled with DEADLY, POISONOUS CREATURES. Not clear is that there is also wine, which is likewise sometimes used as a painkiller.
Unfortunately, all is not mind-numbing bliss in the arachnid research kingdom. Further research showed that not all spider venom lends itself to making painkillers, although surely other imaginative uses for the venom of the Most Poisonous Creatures on Earth have been discovered. Those uses are glaringly omitted from the article.
According to Dr. Smith, “[s]ome, such as the Sydney funnel-web spider, a native to Australia, were easy to milk because they are very aggressive. Literally, you have to just look at them and they’ll start dripping venom from their fangs.” Sadly, the free-flowing venom does not contain pain blocking ingredients, unless you count death.
“’Others, including South American tarantulas the size of dinner plates, had to be anesthetized and the muscles around the venom gland stimulated for venom to be produced,’ she said. A university researcher traveled the world to collect venoms from spiders kept by arachnid enthusiasts and pet shops.”
So here is what we have learned:
1. Stay the hell out of Australia. Their wine is available for purchase in non-tarantula infested wine stores in the U.S., and it produces the same mind-numbing effects as if you bought it there.
2. No matter how much your job sucks, if it does not involve anesthetizing spiders, your day has not been that bad.
3. South American tarantulas might serve more people than Cambodian tarantulas.
4. Do not make eye contact with the Sydney Funnel Web Spider.
5. Pet stores have changed, and not for the better.
I am killing my pain with a non-tarantula venom Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.