Science has caught up to the idea that we will continue to come across new creatures in the world on both land and sea. Sometimes we may live among an animal and not realize how deadly it truly is. Potentially the most dangerous animal on the planet may not be what we all think. Most suspect a snake or even sea creature such as a jelly fish, however neither are as dangerous as this animal.
The Assassin Caterpillar or Lonomia obliqua, as it’s come to be known, may truly be the deadliest animal science has come across. Hailing from Brazil, seemingly the hub for several deadly animals of all types, this caterpillar is tough to spot….which adds to it’s deadly nature. Most blend into the environment they thrive in, the wilderness. Due to this, they typically are found on trees or limbs in forests and jungles and most people find them by accident.
Most animals also tend to run into the same problem. Animals who try to eat the caterpillar run into an issue where they either die trying to eat the animal or do so before being able to, which has made it sort of grow a reputation among the animal community to not be messed with. Usually it shoves off it’s venom as a defense tactic, so if you try to kill this animal, it will certainly not take it lying down.
What exactly makes it so deadly and what kind of venom does it give out?
According to experts, during its larval caterpillar stage it produces a deadly toxin, found at the base of the many tiny spines that cover it for protection. There is no special toxin name for the caterpillar, other than a Hemotoxin. A Hemotoxin basically causes you to bleed out. In most cases of an venom attaching to you from an animal, you will bleed out of most holes in your body from your ears to…other areas.
Hemotoxins are found in other animals as well, such as as the deadly Boomslang snake found in Africa, but the Assassin Caterpillar steps it up a notch. This animal basically causes what is known as disseminated intravascular coagulation through all of this. It is a condition where the blood clots inside the blood vessels. Not a very pleasant experience one would imagine. Oh, but it’s still not done.
It was also discovered that the toxin in the Assassin Caterpillar’s skin held potent anti-clotting agents. Their anti-clotting agent would attach itself to another protein to the body’s cells. In turn, it would cause them to leak as blood is unable to clot. Soon the internal bleeding would star to fill up the surrounding tissue with what is known as “bruised blood”. Internal bleeding spreads through the internal organs and eventually leads to compression and brain death.
Basically a person dies from a full-blown hemorrhagic syndrome at the end of the day. The toxin among other materials the Assassin Caterpillar causes make it uniquely deadly. The toxin in Hemotoxin is already on par with or greater than the snakes that carry the same toxin. Then you add in what all it can do when inside the body and a person is screwed without treatment.
There have been over 500 confirmed deaths to the Assassin Caterpillar, but in 2012-2013 alone, over 300 cases were reported.
When this happened the Brazilian scientists at the Institute of Butantan got to work trying to find an antivenin of any kind that would help them in killing off the venom when it entered the body. They were able to produce a serum that does not get the venom out totally and may not be a 100% effective in helping the person survive after prolonged exposure or even stop them from losing a limp or organ. However, it does reverse the affects of the disseminated intravascular coagulation.
It all works is like this. When the spines from the Assassin Caterpillar get stuck in a victim, venom is injected through these hollow spines and injected into the unsuspecting victim. The good news in it all is that it takes several stings or injections to cause a big problem, such as a death. However, just like a bee sting the spot where the injection happens will manage to get affected. If no treatment is sought out, even a small issue such as one injection from the spine could cause potential limb loss.
The bad news is that usually it may only take a small bit to cause deadly problems for young or elderly people. Most of the time as well, the Assassin Caterpillar will inject numerous times because on average people either touch it with their full hand in a grip or step on it, causing the needle-like spines to go into the person.
Even more bad news is that as of 2012, the Assassin Caterpillar appeared to be thriving and only doing better. The Brazilian people have known of this animal for some time and only realized lately how deadly it was. It is said that the Assassin Caterpillar lived among the people or outside cities for centuries causing no real harm.
No one knows how long the Assassin Caterpillar has left, it could be more centuries to come. The good news in it all is that we know of it’s deadly nature now. The problem is that we will surely run into it more often. Scientists think that the reason for so many deaths due to the Assassin Caterpillar were seen in the last two years more than any reported amount ever for the animal, is because of the growing numbers. People simply are seeing more of them, therefore coming into deadly contact. Despite this, we all should certainly be very careful to not run across this little thing in the wild, as it may be the last regret we ever have.