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Animals By Joe Burgett -

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via The Hill]

Brazilian Arrowhead Vipers & Medicine

The Brazilian Arrowhead Viper is a dangerous snake, yet also happens to be one of the most important to scientists due to its venom. During tests on its venom, scientists found a molecule they called the “bradykinin” potentiating factor from the venom and found that it was related to a class of molecules that stop angiotensin-converting enzymes from blocking bradykinin. Of course, bradykinins are proteins that cause blood vessels to dilate and lower blood pressure. In the wild, it would be useful for a snake to have venom like this as it could slow down the animal. In our case, this venom helped to develop one of the first ACE inhibitors, which treats hypertension and congestive heart failure.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Syed F Abbas/Shutterstock.com]

Blister Beetles & Viral Skin Infections

Folk medicine isn’t always known for getting stuff right. However, a lot of the things we still utilize today in some form trace back to folk medicinal ideology. One of those concepts is the use of blister beetles. They have been used for a variety of ailments over the years. One area they have been actually successful in helping is skin infections, such as the Molluscum contagiosum virus or MCV. The viral skin infection is part of the poxvirus family, and results in several bumps appearing on the body. Blister beetles can treat this quite well. On top of that, they are also quite helpful in treating warts. Apparently, it’s the cantharidin blistering toxin that seems to help so much.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Patjo/Shutterstock.com]

Sheep/Lamb & Blood Transfusions

It was June 1667 when French physician Jean-Baptiste Denys performed the first documented blood transfusion to a human. Denys was helping a 15-year-old boy who had been treated by bloodletting which caused him to suffer blood loss. To save him, Denys used sheep’s blood. The teen remarkably survived but it was by luck alone. Denys then tried “cure” a mentally ill man named Antoine Mauroy as Denys & his colleagues felt replacing his “bad blood” with “good blood” would help him. Keep in mind, during this time doctors were still ignorant about many things, including mental health. Sadly, Mauroy died mostly because humans struggle to handle even other human blood, let alone blood from animals. However, he did survive the first & even second transfusions. He’d technically die truly by arsenic poisoning from surgeons.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[image via Ian Fletcher/Shutterstock.com]

Spiders & Flexible Tape/Homes/And More

If there is one species that should be among the animals that inspired scientists to do something great, spiders deserve to be near the top of the list. Spider silk we’ve found to be incredibly strong, up to 5 times stronger than steel by weight. Silk is stretchy, but also lightweight, making it possible to use in many places. One area is in a medical tape that can be peeled off of a wound without damaging the tissue underneath. It can be used to attach tubes or sensors to newborns too, just showing how useful the tape can be. Spider Webbing/Silk has also been proven to be great as a potential material for homes due to how strong it is and even how it stacks up against the elements.

Animals That Inspired Scientists To Do Incredible Things
[Image via Andanatb/Shutterstock.com]

Maggot Therapy & Wound Treatment

While you might not think that maggots could be among the animals that inspired scientists, they have been pretty critical. Maggot Therapy has been used for thousands of years in some form. We know that Native Americans, even the Mayans, utilized it to help clean wounds. Maggots were a major asset during the American Civil War as well as both World War I & World War II. In fact, in 2004 the American FDA cleared maggots from the common green bottle fly as a “medicinal device.” Used for treating things such as various types of ulcers, and non-healing traumatic post-surgical wounds. Basically, maggots are inserted into non-healing skin or soft-tissue wounds to clean out necrotic (or dead) tissue within the wound. They also essentially help to disinfect the area, resulting in far fewer amputations or long-term issues.


Where Do We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)

National Institutes of Health

United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

University of Illinois

University of Edinburgh

Yale University

University of California – Berkeley

University of Bath

Penn State University

University of York

University of California – San Diego

West Chester University

Smithsonian Magazine