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Venoms vs. Poisons

Venoms vs. Poisons. What’s the difference between these two substances? In this Brain Scoop video, Field Museum Chief Curiosity Correspondent Emily Graslie provides a quick description:

The terms ‘venomous’ and ‘poisonous’ are often used interchangeably, but they’re two very different things. To start out with, both are toxins, substances created by living things that can do harm to other living things. If a toxin is actively injected into you by a bite or a sting, that organism is venomous. If you absorb the toxin like by eating it, breathing it in, or by rubbing it on your skin, then that organism is poisonous.

Emily Graslie
Graslie also takes a closer look at how some reptiles and amphibians have evolved these toxins and how they’re used in a sort of evolutionary arms race—”an ever escalating race or competition.” Featured creatures include the false water cobra, the cane toad, the shingleback skink, and more.

toxins arms race between snake and toad
Watch these next: How (and why) do bees sting? and how do jellyfish sting? Plus, watch more Brain Scoop videos on TKSST.

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