We all know snake venom is dangerous, but seeing the toxin in action is another matter. Now, thanks to YouTube user fragrancemad, the world can see just what happens to human blood in the process—and it's not pretty.
"I was doing some research for Cobra parfum by Jeannes Arthes and came across this video about snake venom by mistake - it's so incredible that I just had to upload it to YouTube," the user wrote in the video's info section.
"Basically, a single drop of this venom (from a Russell's viper) is dripped onto a petri dish of blood, and in seconds the blood clots into a thick chunk of solid matter."
Dr. Terence M. Davidson, M.D., of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, explains on his website exactly what the venom from a Russell's Viper can do to a human.
"In Sri Lanka, Burma and India it is responsible for the majority of snakebite incidents. It is a very dangerous snake. Large members of some species can easily deliver a lethal dose in humans. Victims will usually complain of pain at the bite site, and swelling may be evident."
Besides bleeding disorders, he noted, symptoms can include acute kidney failure, swelling eyelids, difficulty speaking and general weakness.
It may sound scary, but snake venom can be very useful to humans. In a study published last year in the Journal Of Biological Chemistry researchers noted important medical uses of the sinister stuff.
"Snake venom contains a vast number of toxins that target proteins in platelets," Yonchol Shin, an associate professor at Kogakuin University who specializes in snake toxins told ScienceDaily. "Some of those toxins prevent platelets from clotting, which can lead to profuse bleeding in snake bite victims. Others, like the one we've focused this research on, potently activate platelets, which results in blood clots. Identification of the molecular targets of many of these toxins has made an enormous contribution to our understanding of platelet activation and related diseases."