Trolley of Death

I have yet to meet anyone that isn’t fascinated by venomous creatures and their potential to… well, kill you. Australia is full of them and some are not always what you would expect!

Working at the museum means I have access to a whole host of natural history objects. Recently I had to do a photoshoot featuring some of the venomous animals I work on. I gathered together several specimens onto a trolley to move them around and voila! Trolley of Death was born.

I translated this trolley of death into a series of tweets to promote museum collections as a research source to the venom community, highlight little-studied perdators and educate the public about some of the myths that swirl around these animals.

In the lead up to the new #trolleyofdeath tweet series @anemonegoddess I’d thought I would take a moment to recap first series highlights:

Male Platypi

Platypus males use the venomous spurs in defence when competing for mates. Only males have venom and it contains defensin toxins which are antimicrobial.

Zero known human deaths.

Coastal Taipan

Despite their friendly appearance, Coastal Taipans are a nervous snake ie. dangerous. The word ‘Taipan’ comes from the language of the wik-mungkan people (Cape York, North Queensland). The venom contains neurotoxin Taicatoxin.

Five known human deaths.

Armed Anemone

The fish-feeding armed (sea) anemone will leave you feeling nauseous with headaches and a rash that can last up to 9 months. The venom contains sodium channel inhibitors.

No deaths recorded, just pain.

Trolley of Death Series 2 commences on Twitter on Tuesday 21st September to celebrate #NationalBiodiversityMonth. The series runs for six weeks on a Tuesday, also known as #ToxinTuesday in the venom research community.

SPOILER ALERT: The first creature feature for the new Twitter series will be the unattractive, but cute in its own way, Stonefish. Unless of course you have stood on one, and then in no way would you find them endearing!

Each week I highlight a few interesting facts including the animals best known toxin and number of deaths (though not every venomous creature can kill you). I hope you can join in and you may even have an animal you would like featured in the future!

Compiled by sea anemone taxonomist and venom researcher Dr Michela Mitchell. Follow her on Twitter @anemonegoddess