In the eyes of many people, snails are non-toxic, they move slowly, and they can be trampled to death if they are not careful. But there is a highly poisonous snail in this world, it is called "cone snail". In the summer of 2019, this snail has repeatedly caused terrorist incidents in the shallow waters of northern Australia, and people's talk has changed.
Famed marine biologist Claire Hahn nearly lost his life to a cone snail during his investigation, not only his assistant but also himself. It turns out that the "cone snail" is one of the most poisonous creatures in the world. One drop of its venom is enough to kill 20 adults. It is a veritable "killer with one cigarette". What is incredible is that there is a harm and a benefit. Through research, Claire found that this extremely poisonous toxin is actually a good medicine for curing diseases...
Calm waters, a demon was discovered
One day at the end of July 2019, the University of Queensland in Australia. Professor Claire Hahn, a marine biologist, suddenly received a special assignment: there was a wounding incident of an unknown creature in northern Australia. After the authorities were at a loss, they had to ask him to help find out the truth as soon as possible.
The next day, Professor Claire and three assistants rushed to the destination of the trip - the coast of Santa Maria. The coast of Santa Maria, beautiful and rich, is an inseparable part of Cowens, a tourist city in northern Australia. It has a unique landscape, a pleasant climate, a soothing coastline with azure waters and golden sandy beaches, and not far from the world's largest virgin mangrove forest.
There has never been a disaster since it was designated as a seaside resort. Millions of tourists visit this area every year to enjoy the sun, sand and surf here. Therefore, it is always crowded and lively here.
But after the horrific incident, it's hard to see a single person in front of you. Professor Claire saw a huge warning sign standing on the seashore: No individual or organization is allowed to play in the water without permission.
The staff of the resort took the initiative to introduce the situation to Claire: the unidentified creature wounded people ten days ago. At that time, there were tens of thousands of tourists, and everyone was sunbathing on the beach, or surfing and playing. A young man named Yoan, who believed that he was good at water, entered deeper waters. Seeing that his companions did not dare to follow, he became more and more proud and began to play diving on his own.
But the most dangerous thing often happens when he is unaware of his complacency. His mates found out that Joan had stabbed a few men and then disappeared. They were worrying about him, and found that Joan had drifted straight to the shore. . He was completely in a coma, and his buddies carried him to the shore with all hands and feet to check him. No fatal wounds were found. Only his middle finger was swollen and black...
Then, the intense rescue work failed. Save John's life.
The forensic examination confirmed that Yoan died of poisoning. After a protein toxin that was a hundred times stronger than the cobra's venom invaded Yoan's body, it caused his limbs to become paralyzed, his consciousness dissipated, and he gradually fainted. Finally, he died due to respiratory depression and myocardial weakness.
But forensic doctors have searched through the books and found no record of this toxin - a completely unknown toxin. Therefore, the forensic judge based on experience: Joan was attacked by a strangely poisonous creature before he died.
In order to avoid such a tragedy from happening again, the official set up a warning sign on the beach to prohibit any individuals and organizations from entering the water again, and sent a police officer to patrol here. As a result, the charming coast of Santa Maria has become disordered and beautiful with the death of a young life.
However, someone dared to turn a blind eye to the official prohibition. A British immigrant named Lisbon broke into the restricted area without authorization, and staged a scene of both worry and joy.
It turned out that Lisbon was a patient with sciatica and severe lumbar spondylosis. The pain in his left hip and waist had plagued him for ten years. As the symptoms continued to worsen in the past two years, the pain in his heart at the time of the onset made Lisbon unbearable, and he had thoughts of suicide several times.
When he saw the TV news, Lisbon, who originally advocated sea burials, immediately regarded the coast of Santa Maria as the most ideal place to commit suicide. While he could still walk, he came to this sea area, and hurriedly walked into the sea when the patrolling police were unprepared. However, before he walked far, he felt something stabbed in his leg, and the severe pain made him suddenly. He gave up his plan to commit suicide, and when he fled in a hurry, his leg was accidentally cut by a sharp rock. His wound was more than ten centimeters long and three centimeters deep...
In the TV news, Li Siben closed his eyes, After the bloody scene was broadcast, panic spread like a plague. People talked about this sea area with discoloration, because there may be more than one devil in the sea that can kill people. In order to restore the resort area to normal as soon as possible, officials hope that Professor Claire can find out the real culprit.
Claire's work started with investigating the victims. In the hospital, he was surprised to see that Lisbon's leg injury was no longer serious, and his sciatica pain was more than half relieved. Now he walks like an ordinary person! Is there anything more incredible than this? It was also attacked by unknown creatures, some people lost their lives, and some people got a blessing in disguise.
During the questioning, Lisbon said regretfully that he did not know what attacked him. Claire found that there were no other wounds except for the wounds and leg wounds he suffered when he was attacked by the unknown creature. He concluded that it was this heavier wound that expelled most of the toxins with the bloodstream, and the remaining toxins played a miraculous role and cured him. This is the main reason for the mixed results.
That night, Claire pondered late into the night: What kind of hideous face does a creature that can secrete such a poisonous thing have?
Underwater exploration, encounter a killer
The next day , Claire decided to let his most powerful assistant Roman into the water to see if he could find out the culprit. Roman is a 30-year-old young man who has followed Claire for many years. He knows almost every creature in the tropical shallow sea. His bold and careful style is also highly valued by Claire.
Once he escaped from a shark that broke into the shallows. Therefore, Roman did not completely take this mission to heart. After preparations were made, Roman went into the water.
Soon, he who underestimated the enemy really encountered an accident. Claire watched the assistant's whereabouts vigilantly on the speedboat. Roman did not have any abnormality in the previous dives, but his fifth dive seemed to be particularly long.
Just when Claire waited a little impatiently, he was surprised to see Roman slowly floating up, his hands and feet seemed to be out of control. Seeing that the situation was not good, Claire hurriedly called other assistants to drag Roman to the boat and help him take off his diving suit.
People found a red and swollen wound on Roman's forearm. Before he could think about it, Claire quickly made a cross-shaped opening on it with a knife, and then squeezed out the blood around it. While doing all this, Roman couldn't see a trace of pain on his face. He struggled and said, "Professor, I've been stung by a snail."
Snail? Can you sting like a wasp? Claire was stunned. He believed that the assistant's words would never be false, but how powerful is a snail? Actually pierced through the thick wetsuit!
The speedboat quickly drove towards the shore, during which time someone had called an ambulance, and Roman had slowly fallen into a coma. After rescue, Roman was finally out of the dangerous period after being in a coma for a few days. Fortunately, because of the protection of the diving suit, when the poisonous thorn came in, it was already a dead end, and Claire squeezed out most of the poisonous blood, so Roman did not suffer much damage.
He recalled that he suddenly saw a conical snail with a delicate shape at the bottom of the water, and was about to pick it up, when he suddenly felt a tingling pain in his forearm, like being pricked by a hot needle, and then his whole body became numb and began to lose control. ... The speed and toxicity of its movements made Claire take a deep breath.
Time waits for no one, and Claire decides to go into the water to see for herself. At this time, the officials did not dare to be careless. They drove the prepared ambulance straight to the shore, and even sent five emergency personnel on the speedboat. This kind of pomp still made Claire dare not take it lightly. After he put on a diving suit, he brought a sharp knife.
After diving into the water, through the water mirror, Claire could clearly see that under the sun, there were dark green corals and colorful fish in the blue water, but he had no time to care about these sights. What he wanted to see more was to let Roman Injured cone snail.
He was lucky and found his target half an hour after his first dive: it was really a snail he had never noticed before, with a delicate conical shell about 14 cm long and a pattern covered in brown on a white background. The plaque is lying lazily beside a piece of coral, and there is a long soft esophagus sticking out from the screw mouth, which is its "nose", swinging freely like a worm, and its simple and honest appearance makes people have The urge to touch it.
However, the next scene made Claire stunned: a small grouper regarded the esophagus as food, and without serious identification, it opened its mouth and rushed towards it. The esophagus, which was originally floating in the water, suddenly resembled a hardened gun barrel. With a flick of it, a "bullet" was shot accurately at the opponent. In an instant, the original flexible body of the grouper seemed to have been tapped, and immediately became stiff and unable to move. At this time, the cone snail slowly emerged, treating the small fish as a sumptuous lunch...
Professor Claire found through observation that when the snail hunted, it would ambush its body in the sand, leaving only its long nose exposed. In this way, it can not only obtain oxygen, but also monitor the movements of the prey.
The slow and slow snail can hunt like a poisonous snake, and the fish that are several times faster have become its defeats. Accordingly, Claire immediately determined: This must be the murderer. He stuffed the snail into the net pocket with a stainless steel clip, but when grabbing the adjacent one, the snail was so aggressive that he shot a "bullet" at the stainless steel clip unceremoniously, and the "bullet" hit the steel sheet With a clear sound, the rapid strength made Claire break out in a cold sweat.
Highly poisonous snails are actually good medicine
Claire captured a total of three cone-shaped snails, and he kept them in a large fish tank in the laboratory. The environment and temperature in the fish tank completely simulated the appearance of the seabed. To get a better look at their prey, Claire shook the small fish tied with strings in front of them, enticing them to attack.
However, conical snails are extremely fast when preying, and it only takes a fraction of a millisecond from finding prey to "poisoning", which is difficult to record clearly even with a high-speed camera that can shoot 1,000 frames per second.
Claire had to dissect one of them. Under the microscope, he finally understood the special predatory structure of cone snails: the esophagus they usually protrude is filled with fangs and tongues similar to fangs, and the venom in the body is transmitted to the teeth through the poison tube. Tongue, the whiskers on the tip of the mouth sense when a fish or enemy is approaching, they will quickly eject their venom-filled tongues, the whole process is like a whaler launching a harpoon.
The 1.5mm-long sharp teeth are shaped like a curved transparent steel fork, and its tip part hides a small opening from which a poisonous needle can be shot, the scientific name is "harpoon" enough to make the injured A dead hoot.
The snail has a flexible "hypodermic syringe" attached to a toxin-filled sac that can quickly inject the toxin into its prey within seconds. Before being attacked by it, the small fish relies on the biological nervous system to control its own body.
After piercing the needle into the fish's body, it took less than a second to stop the fish from struggling. Immediately afterwards, the toxin launched its first round of attacks, quickly entering the chemical valve that controls the fish's nerve signals, making the valve in the In the open state for a long time, toxins continue to invade the body of the fish.
The fish's muscles begin to spasm due to the action of the cone snail toxin, and just before the fish manages to regain control of its movements, another cone snail's attack begins, the toxin attacks the junction between the fish's nerve and muscle, preventing the The muscles receive commands, and as the spasms become weaker, the fish is completely paralyzed.
A series of marine poisonous creatures such as cone snails have formed a variety of physiological functions because of their long-term survival in a specific marine special ecological environment and a long-term evolutionary process. These physiological functions are reflected in their toxins.
In order to verify the power of the venom, Claire was troubled about how to get the venom of the cone snail. Finally, he drew on the method of lure cobras to detoxify, and covered the mouth of a thick test tube with a thin film, and then hung it with a thread to align it. The snails swayed repeatedly, making them think that an enemy was threatening their safety, and finally waited until the cone snail launched an angry blow.
Claire took out the test tube and saw a transparent liquid flowing slowly along the wall of the test tube. He collected all the venom, and then took one-tenth of it and injected it into a 100-kilogram pig. As a result, the needle was not pulled out, and the fat pig had collapsed to the ground, and the pig had stopped breathing after one cigarette. This result surprised everyone present: the cone snail is definitely a veritable "smoke killer", a drop of its venom is enough to kill 20 adults, such venom is difficult for rattlesnakes, desert scorpions, and black widow venomous spiders Looking back.
Since then, Professor Claire has conducted in-depth research on cone snails. He found that there are different cone snails distributed from northern Okinawa in Japan to the southern tip of Australia. Each cone snail can produce as many as 100 different venoms. This unremarkable "little point" actually formed the world's largest source of poison.
Because he has seen the magical effect of conical snail venom in "curing diseases", Claire also conducted a special study on the venom. He found that the conical snail venom contains hundreds of different components, and the composition of different species is very large. difference.
These different toxins, called "conotoxins," contain different peptides and target a specific neural channel or receptor. The toxin also contains analgesic components that can immobilize the prey and make it very calm before dying.
"Conotoxin" has a wide range of uses: it can help humans better understand the control of heart rate and myocardial contractility, and prevent nerve cell death caused by poor circulation.
In particular, it has a particularly good pain-relieving effect on the human body, even the most serious chronic neuralgia is not a problem. Claire used the protein to develop five "experimental" pain relievers, all of which significantly reduced pain in test mice. The pain of advanced cancer is often unsatisfactory even with morphine, but when these painkillers are replaced, the test mice can eat normally immediately, and the pain relief effect is more than 1,000 times stronger than that of morphine.
Because the mechanism of action of this new type of pain reliever is completely different from morphine, long-term use will not produce drug resistance and addiction like morphine, and there are few other side effects.
There are also some cone snails that contain tetrodotoxin. The bright colors and pattern of patches on the surface of the cone snails are easy to attract those who are curious to pick them up, and the tragedy happens precisely because of this.
Relative to any other species in nature, the widely distributed cone snail may be a magical medicine arsenal, and nature is just that amazing!