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Poison vs. venom: What's the difference? - Rose Eveleth

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Would you rather be bitten by a venomous rattlesnake or touch a poisonous dart frog? While both of these animals are capable of doing some serious damage to the human body, they deliver their dangerous toxins in different ways. Rose Eveleth sheds light on the distinction between poison and venom (and why you shouldn't treat either one like you've seen in the movies).

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  • Educator Rose Eveleth
  • Director Franz Palomares
  • Animation Artist Celeste Lai
  • Narrator Rose Eveleth

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Tetrodotoxin is an extremely potent poison (toxin) found mainly in the liver and sex organs (gonads) of some fish, such as puffer fish, globefish, and toadfish (order Tetraodontiformes) and in some amphibian, octopus, and shellfish species. Human poisonings occur when the flesh and/or organs of the fish are improperly prepared and eaten. Tetrodotoxin interferes with the transmission of signals from nerves to muscles and causes an increasing paralysis of the muscles of the body. Tetrodotoxin poisoning can be fatal.
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Here's a list of poisonous animals. Here's a list of venomous animals.

As a Canadian-Australian, I have always wondered why it is that Australia has so many venomous animals that can kill you while Canada has virtually none. But it's not just Australia - it seems like all beautiful, warm places are cursed with venomous native species. So I set out to find the truth: why have all these venomous species evolved in the world's best holiday destinations?

Why Do Venomous Animals Live In Warm Climates?
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I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that the poison of most species of frogs don't go beyond the barrier of our skin, like our hands. Only a single frog specie, Phillobates terribilis, has a poison with this ability (batrachotoxin). The other must come into contact with mucous to penetrate the bloodstream.
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Outline your plan of action if you ever come in contact with a poisonous or venomous animal.
02/14/2014 • 
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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Rose Eveleth
  • Director Franz Palomares
  • Animation Artist Celeste Lai
  • Narrator Rose Eveleth

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