Venomous by Christie Wilcox

Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry - Christie Wilcox

To paraphrase the author, this book is Dr. Christie Wilcox's ode to the fearsome power of venomous creatures and her tribute to their incredible scientific potential.  This is a beautifully written book on the little discussed and known subject of venom.   The book is an investigation into venom and some of the weird and wonderful creatures that use them.  The author takes a look at how venomous creatures interact with other species and ecosystems, how these interactions have effected the evolutionary path of these species (including humans).  Dr. Wilcox reveals how the different types of venom work, what they do to the human (and prey) body, adaptation and immunity to venom, and how these substances can revolutionize biochemistry and the medical field.  

 


The author is a molecular biologist writing for an intelligent public (of any age - teenagers might enjoy this book too).  The author manages to balance all the interesting science with amusing or illustrative anecdotes without making these personal stories seem like useless filler.  Who could find stories about Komodo Dragons, venomous mammals, carnivorous snails, bullet ants which inflict one of the most painful sting in the world, bees, spiders, snakes, wasps that turn cockroaches into zombies, and spikey caterpillars that turn your insides into mush, boring? 

She includes enough well-explained biochemical detail to show how different venom functions, without bogging the reader down with excruciating detail, and she does not "dumb-down" the science either (THANK YOU!).   There are numerous photographs and illustrations which would probably be more legible (or at least larger) in the paper version of the book than the Kindle version I read.  

This book is both informative and entertaining to read.  I learned a great deal of new stuff (which is the point to reading science books) and had fun while doing all this learning.  This is an author who I hope writes more science books in the future.