Monday, 23 January 2017


Eating carrots will help you seek in the dark. Taking vitamin C prevents colds. Stress will turn your hair grey. These are some of the most alluring health myths that we actually believe. This infographic by Unum explores some of the most common health and wellbeing myths, and seeks to find out the truth, as well as in some cases the origins of the myth.

Top image credit: Parentingupstream/Pixabay.

[Source: Unum.]

Sunday, 22 January 2017


10 Of The Most Epic Typos You Will Ever See
By Laura Martisiute,
Listverse, 22 January 2017.

Nowadays, typos are an extremely common blunder. Who doesn’t make a typo when texting, writing a paper, or even sending out a resume? Typos can be found in beloved books, celebrity tweets, and even newspaper articles. We’re used to them, but they never fail to amuse us when pointed out. Below, we have a list of ten ridiculous typos that are sure to make you chuckle.

10. The President ‘Entering’ His Fiancee

Photo via MSNBC

In 1915, The Washington Post ran an article on President Woodrow Wilson’s love life. One curious sentence in the article read, “The President gave himself up for the time being to entering his fiancee.”

Of course, what the paper meant to say was that the president had been entertaining his bride-to-be Edith Galt, not “entering” her. The eyebrow-raising sentence was an obvious mistake but one that went down in history as being one of the worst typos ever printed. Thankfully, ever since Eugene Meyer bought The Washington Post in 1933, it has been a bearer of exemplary political coverage that has thus far managed to avoid similar blunders.

9. Bible Typos


Perhaps the best-known Bible blunder in history was the accidental omission of the word “not” in “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” The Bible in question was put out in 1631 and became known as the Sinner’s Bible, and some speculate that the accidental slip-up was actually sabotage.

However, memorable typos can also be found in other versions of the Bible. For example, in a 1795 edition of the King James Bible, “Let the children first be filled” (Mark 7:27) is replaced with a far more frightening “Let the children first be killed.”

Similarly, in a 1716 edition of the King James Bible, “Sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34) is replaced with “Sin on more.” 8,000 copies were printed before anyone noticed the typo. Finally, in a 1612 edition of the Bible, “Princes have persecuted me” became a far more futuristic “Printers have persecuted me.”

8. 14,499 + 1 = 15,000

Photo credit: The New York Times/Rebecca J. Rosen via The Atlantic

No one knows exactly how it happened, but between February 6 and 7, 1898, the issue numbering for The New York Times somehow went from 14,499 to 15,000. And no one noticed it until a century later.

In 1999, Aaron Donovan, a news assistant at The Times, became curious about issue numbering and the possibility of error. Using a spreadsheet program, he calculated the number of days since The Times’s founding, and through the newspaper’s archives, he found out the days on which the paper skipped publication. Donovan then scanned books of historic front pages and reels of microfilm and found the date of the 500-issue gap.

On January 1, 2000, The Times issued a correction with an explanation. So although the December 31, 1999, paper bore issue number 51,753, the next day’s paper bore issue number 51,254. No damage was done, although the typo did result in The Times celebrating its 50,000th issue on March 14, 1995, when it was in fact only issue 49,500.

7. The Mistake Corrected 161 Years Later


In 2014, The New York Times corrected a typo they’d made 161 years earlier. The article that contained the error was printed on January 20, 1853, and recounted the story of a freed slave named Solomon Northup, who had published his memoir 12 Years A Slave. In the article, Northup’s name was misspelled as “Northrop,” while the headline misspelled it as “Northrup.”

In 2013, Northup’s memoirs were turned into a movie, which went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture at the 86th Academy Awards. Later, a Twitter user pointed out the typo in The Times archives, prompting an apology from the newspaper.

6. Typo Results In The Santa Tracker

Photo credit: US Air Force

A misprint in a 1955 Sears advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Colonel Harry Shoup’s secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command (now known as NORAD) led to the creation of NORAD’s official Santa Tracker.

The whole thing began when Colonel Shoup received a phone call to a number known only to him and a four-star general at the Pentagon. When Shoup answered, the voice at the other end of the line asked “Is this Santa Claus?” Shoup was at first annoyed, thinking this was some sort of prank. But when the voice at the other end of the line started crying, Shoup realized it was not a joke and pretended to be Santa Claus. Many more calls followed, and Shoup learned that this was the result of a typo in a Sears ad.

A number of airmen were put on the phones to act like Santa Claus, but that was not to be the end. On Christmas Eve 1955, Shoup walked in to find a drawing of a sleigh on a glass board that was used for tracking airplanes. Inspired, Shoup called the local radio station, saying that an unidentified flying object that looks like a sleigh had been identified. After that, the radio stations began calling him every hour asking him where Santa was, and a Santa tracking system was born.

5. From ‘Exotic’ To ‘Erotic’


In 1988, Gloria Quinan, the owner of Banner Travel Services, sued a phone company for US$10 million as a result of a typo. The typo, which appeared in a telephone directory ad, turned her “exotic” travel services to “erotic” travel services.

As one can imagine, Quinan was none too happy and ended up suing the yellow pages. After all, the unfortunate typo resulted in a large number of inappropriate calls and the loss of loyal clientele. Quinan was refunded not only the US$230 monthly fee for running the ad in the phone book but was also awarded $10 million as a result of the mental anguish and distress she suffered.

4. Typo Stops A Bank Heist

Photo credit: Reuters/Ashikur Rahman

A typo in an online bank transfer request stopped a nearly US$1 billion heist in 2016. Nonetheless, the hackers got away with about US$80 million.

The hackers had successfully breached Bangladesh Bank’s systems and stole its credentials for payment transfers. The hackers then sent almost three dozen requests to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to move money from Bangladesh Bank’s account there to entities in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Four requests to transfer money to the Philippines went through, a total of about US$81 million. However, the fifth transfer of $20 million to a Sri Lankan non-profit organization was unsuccessful, as the hackers misspelled “foundation” as “fandation,” causing suspicion.

3. Extra ‘S’ Personally Offends

Photo credit: University of Maryland via Explore Baltimore Heritage

A statue of Edgar Allan Poe near the University of Baltimore School of Law in Maryland was sculpted by Moses Ezekiel in 1916 and erected in 1921. The original base of the statue bore an inscription from Poe’s poem “The Raven,” which read, “Dreamng dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before.”

For some reason, the very obvious typo of the word “dreamng” was less insulting to Poe’s enthusiasts than the typo in “mortals,” which should have been “mortal.” One Baltimore resident was so upset by the mistake that he spent years writing complaint letters to local newspapers. When that did nothing, he took a chisel and personally removed the offending letter in 1930, “for the good of [his] soul.”

2. The Typo That Almost Ended In A Death Sentence


In 1987, a man named Bruce Wayne Morris was accidentally sentenced to death because of a typo. Morris was accused of killing a man who had picked him up when he was hitchhiking from Sacramento, California, to Lake Tahoe in 1985. After the trial, the judge intended to leave written instructions stating that if Morris was not sentenced to death, he would face prison for life without the possibility of parole. But instead of the word “without,” he wrote “with.”

The jury, thinking they had to decide between a death sentence and the possibility of letting Morris out in a couple of years, chose death. However, after numerous appeals, the mistake was noticed, and the decision was reversed in 2001.

1. ‘World Is Fukt’

Photo credit: @angrygoat/Twitter via The Guardian

In 2014, The Australian Financial Review‘s front page contained a headline in its Western Australian special Anzac Day weekend edition, which read in part, “World Is Fukt.”

Believe it or not, that wasn’t the only typo made on that specific front page. Other mistakes included “Japan headline,” “Gallipolli,” “Joe Hockey headline tk here,” and unexplained empty space. You have to admit, that is a lot of mistakes on one front page.

The editor-in-chief, Michael Stutchbury, apologized to Western Australian readers for the “obviously unacceptable state” of the paper’s front page. The error was apparently the result of production staff in Sydney pressing the wrong button, which sent a draft version of the front page to print sites all around the country.

Top image credit: Terrance Heath/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.

[Source: Listverse. Edited. Top image added.]

Saturday, 21 January 2017


4 Computer Security Threats You Might Not Be Protecting Against
By David Nield,
Gizmodo, 19 January 2017.

Most of us know the drill of getting an antivirus program up and running or relying on the built-in security protections that come with our computers, but there are some less well-known threats that it’s important to look out for too. Here’s how to stay safe.

1. USB drive infections

Image: David Nield/Gizmodo

Malicious attacks can happen very quickly if a nasty USB stick should be plugged into your computer by you or someone else. Apparently more than half of us will readily plug in any random USB drives we come across just to see what’s on there.

Modern versions of Windows and macOS no longer run executables on USB drives by default, but the most advanced malware can get around this anyway. The best way of staying safe is just to be very careful about what you plug into your computer.

If you do have an antivirus package installed on your computer, it might already have some kind of USB drive protection available, so make sure it’s correctly configured and switched on. Otherwise, run a thorough virus scan on any new drives when you attach them.

For Windows, there are plenty of third-party tools around specifically designed to combat USB attacks: Panda USB Vaccine, Ninja Pendisk and Bitdefender USB Immunizer to name just three.

Unfortunately, USB attacks can be very sophisticated and difficult to stop. Short of never using USB drives at all, or setting up an isolated computer specifically for the purpose of checking USB sticks - neither of which are very practical - all you can really do to minimize the risk is be very suspicious of USB drives you haven’t just bought brand new.

2. Webcam monitoring

Image: Screenshot

We’ve talked before about keeping hackers out of your webcam. The easiest option is just to tape over the camera, or use the built-in shutter, if it has one - any security solution that’s good enough for Mark Zuckerberg is good enough for us.

There are some software tweaks you can make too, if you’re worried about anyone peering back at you over the web. In Windows, open up Device Manager, then right-click on your webcam (under Imaging devices) and choose Disable.

For a less drastic solution, in Windows 10 you can choose Privacy then Camera to set which apps can use the webcam and which can’t.

Deactivating an integrated webcam isn’t quite as straightforward on macOS. There are a number of unofficial hacks you can try, and this one is probably the simplest. Delete a file called QuickTimeUSBVDCDigitizer.component from Macintosh HD/ System/ Library/ Quicktime (just back up first).

If you’ve installed an external webcam over USB you can of course just unplug it when you’re not using it.

Of course you might not want to disable your webcam completely, in which case there are third-party software tools you can make use of. OverSight for Mac and Who Stalks My Cam for Windows will both run in the background and warn you whenever a program tries to make use of the camera.

3. Wi-Fi eavesdropping

Image: Screenshot

Even if you’ve got all your precious data safely locked down on your computer, once it’s beamed out into the ether it can be nabbed by someone else with surprising ease. We’re talking here primarily about public Wi-Fi networks, where you’re sharing your access with a coffee shop or hotel full of other people.

There are steps you can take to stay protected: stick to sites that use secure HTTPS connections, for example, usually signalled with a green padlock in your browser’s address bar.

Installing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) app is perhaps the best way of staying safe on public Wi-Fi. These programs (AirVPN, IPVanish, TunnelBear, CyberGhost and many others) add an extra layer of encryption and protection, making it much harder for someone sat on the next table over from tapping into your communications.

The usual mantra of keeping all your software up to date, from the OS to your security software, applies again here too. You should think twice about doing any kind of sensitive tasks, like online banking, on a public network - it might be better to wait until you’re back at home.

For more tips, check out our complete guide to staying safe on public Wi-Fi.

4. Social engineering


A note reading “please don’t lock this door tonight” was enough for some enterprising burglars to break into the offices of the FBI in 1971, and social engineering is still one of the most effective ways of getting in somewhere that’s out of bounds.

In terms of computer use that means being suspicious of emails and messages that pop up over social media, thinking twice about following through on pop-ups and prompts on your machine, and being very careful about the information you part with, whether that’s over the web, in person or over the phone.

Watch out for phishing attacks too, where fraudulent emails and sites are mocked up to look like the real thing. Some of these are easy to spot, but some aren’t, and you should make sure your web browser is up to date as well as being wary of random requests for personal details that appear over the web.

If in doubt, visit websites directly rather than following links in emails (you should only really do this when resetting a password or verifying your email address for a new site).

You should also be thinking about the information you’re making public on social networks: should you inadvertently let your home location, or date of birth, or pet’s name public, you’re giving hackers clues about how they might get into your accounts.

As we’ve mentioned many times, turning on two-step verification for your accounts is important, but remember that most apps and sites have a password reset or account recovery option - if someone has the necessary information (like dates of birth or alternative email addresses) to reset an account, you’re in trouble.

Slow down, be suspicious, and be very careful with the information you give out online, whether in a tweet or a web form.

Top image credit: Brian Klug/Flickr.

[Source: Gizmodo.]

Friday, 20 January 2017


Top 10 Reasons President Trump Will Be A Great Success
By Jamie Frater,
Listverse, 20 January 2017.

Today is the big day! The Honorable Donald Trump (and yes, that is the official title of the president-elect) will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America. It has been a long and troubling road to the White House for Mr. Trump, and the citizens of America (in fact, the whole world) have seen one of the most divisive and highly charged election campaigns in history.

But now it is time to put that behind us and look to the future at what successes we are likely to see under President Donald J. Trump.

10. Clean Up The Media

Photo credit:

The 2016 election process exposed many problems in the US media. Thanks to the First Amendment, the United States has a long history of free press, and it is perfectly legal and fair for media organizations to pick sides and root for a particular candidate. But what happens when the entire media claims, on the one hand, to be unbiased and unpolitical, while on the other hand, they collude with and actively work (and in some cases, receive favors and money) to help one candidate win the election?

CNN was caught leaking debate questions to Hillary Clinton, while outlets like The New York Times published fallacious articles about Trump sexually abusing women which, not surprisingly, vanished the day that Mr. Trump was elected.

And WikiLeaks further exposed a very long list of media representatives who were directly working with the Clinton campaign or the Democratic Party to publish news they had either written or vetted. We won’t even mention the ridiculous lengths that some pop culture websites, such as Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, went to in order to influence the election.

Now that Mr. Trump is to be president, those same news outlets have begun a campaign accusing anyone who opposes them of being “fake news,” a ruse which came back to bite them recently. Mr. Trump, by taking to Twitter and vocally calling out the mainstream media in their errors and bias, will ultimately bring about a change for the better in terms of honest and fair reporting.

In fact, representatives of the failing media issued a press release just this week stating: “We credit you with highlighting serious and widespread distrust in the media across the political spectrum. Your campaign tapped into that, and it was a bracing wake-up call for us. We have to regain that trust.” This can only be a plus for everyone.

9. Create New (Old) Jobs


Tariffs are not usually a part of the Republican platform. But when job creation becomes such a high-profile issue, it can’t be ignored. Mr. Trump had the advantage of being an outsider, so he was able to step up and campaign for protectionist policies. This caused much ire among many of the Republican old guard like Senator John McCain who then took his vengeance by leaking false documents to the media.

In reality, tariffs already exist against non–Free Trade partners. As much as some wish to deny it, they are used against the US by many trading partners who are not charged tariffs on goods entering the US.

Mr. Trump’s plan involves what he calls “fair trade” as opposed to “free trade.” The idea is that tariffs will be imposed against nations that are either imposing tariffs against the US or using internal rules and regulations to undercut US competition from their own markets.

The country most likely to be effected financially is China, while the country most likely to benefit is the US. The imposition of these tariffs will compel companies that wish to trade in the US to open up shop there. This has the potential to create massive numbers of jobs.

Most of those jobs will be new jobs, but most will be jobs in old industries that fled the US as a result of former President Clinton’s NAFTA bill. Ultimately, companies will chase the profits and it will soon be cheaper to produce cars, iPhones, and other products in the US directly rather than produce them offshore and import them with high tariffs.

8. End Political Correctness

Political correctness is an act of terrorism against communication. In the words of the great George Carlin: “Political correctness is America’s newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance.” I strongly recommend you watch the video clip above before continuing to read.

In a nutshell, political correctness is the rebranding of things deemed “bad” with terms that claim to remove the negative connotations. Ultimately, however, it causes people to fear their own thoughts and words in case they say something that is now considered “wrong.”

Even worse, the newest “rules” of political correctness end up being used against people who lived before those rules existed or who made public statements using those words when society deemed them innocuous. This has given much ammunition to those of a certain political persuasion who can shut down any intelligent or logical debate by merely screaming “racism,” “homophobia,” or “Islamophobia” - the latter two words, of course, being nonsensical as “phobia” means fear, not hatred.

This was never more obvious than during the election when the mainstream media and those opposing Mr. Trump sought out any recordings or evidence of the political right or Trump supporters using such words as “nigger,” “cripple,” “retard,” etc. On many occasions, people on both sides of the political spectrum waited with bated breath for the leaking of audio showing their political opponent uttering “the N-word!”

The other knock-on effect of this bizarre linguistic destruction is the banning of such classic books as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird and the retitling of famous classic novels such as Ten Little Niggers by Agatha Christie. How quickly we forget the adage that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. If we ban books that discuss things we don’t like, how many generations will it take to forget they ever happened?

7. Modernize Presidential Communication

Photo credit:

Not so long ago (1933–1944 to be exact), Franklin D. Roosevelt was lauded for his “fireside chats” in which he took to the radio to communicate directly to the American people. In much the same way, we now see Mr. Trump using Twitter to the same end. This has caused a great deal of angst among members of the dying mass media who are clinging to any last vestige of influence they once had. And it is perhaps in part for this reason that they have so bitterly attacked the president-elect at every turn.

What sane person could possibly dislike the idea of the president of the United States talking directly (in more ways than one!) to the people? It wasn’t so long ago that claims of being “the most transparent administration” were met with praise and adulation in the same media now decrying Mr. Trump. In an indirect way, the Obama administration has also been extremely transparent, thanks to WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden.

A further arrow in Mr. Trump’s communications bow is his recent declaration that he will be allowing members of the so-called alternative media (blogs, websites, amateur journalists) to join the legacy media in White House press briefings.

6. Improve The Entertainment Industry


After a decade of politically correct, social-justice-promoting movies spewing from the bowels of a Hollywood in deep crisis, profits are dropping as eyeballs seek entertainment off the big screen.

Not a week goes by without entertainment workers releasing another YouTube hit piece on the president-elect and his supporters. Gone are the days of actors and actresses entertaining the people; now they seem to think their job is to educate and influence. These extremely wealthy individuals work in an industry once considered among the lowest of the low. We are now, effectively, being told whom to vote for and what to think by people who, until recently, were considered equal to prostitutes.

But we can’t lay all the blame at the feet of those on the bottom rung of the entertainment industry. The big money behind the movies as well as the directors, the producers, and the scriptwriters all have a part to play.

When these moguls wake up and realize that their audience is abandoning them, they will have to bite their lips and start thinking about their future.

The good news is that now a giant wrench has been thrown into the works of society, causing a great shock. Like the famed phoenix, some fresh and exciting ideas will likely be born. We will no longer have to endure the likes of a re-release of Ghostbusters, whose only claim to fame (aside from having the most disliked trailer in YouTube history) is a blatant misandristic bent.

5. Space Exploration


President John F. Kennedy sent man to the Moon, and all the thanks he got was to be shot by Ted Cruz’s father! Mr. Trump has stated that he will reopen the National Space Council, a group tasked with sitting between all the various space-related agencies (including commercial organizations) to help determine policy. It was disbanded under Mr. Clinton, and while Obama promised to restore it, it has remained defunct ever since.

Mr. Trump intends to reopen the council with Vice President Mike Pence at its head. All manner of talk has arisen over whether this could mean that NASA, in conjunction with the likes of SpaceX, will set their sights on a Mars landing or further deep space ventures. The next four or eight years could prove to be incredibly exciting for those of us with a love and fascination for the great unknown of outer space.

And let us not forget that Mr. Trump will have access to the Roswell documents and Area 51. Who knows what may come of that!

By the way, I was just kidding about Ted Cruz’s dad...maybe...

4. The Environment

Photo credit:

Mr. Trump repeatedly stated during his campaign: “It used to be cars were made in Flint, and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico. Now cars are made in Mexico, and you can’t drink the water in Flint.”

Much anxiety has been caused by the Trump administration’s reticence to embrace climate change extremism, but all is not lost for those who do adhere to environmentalism. While it is true that Mr. Trump doesn’t wish to continue funding international environmental organizations, he does want to divert those funds back to the US to fix problems like Flint’s water.

There is something to be said for cleaning up your own backyard first, and that is the approach we should expect to see over the next few years. When countries like China can indiscriminately emit pollution with no regard for the rest of the world, why should it fall upon the shoulders of countries like the United Kingdom and the United States to compensate?

Furthermore, through the use of tariffs against foreign industry, manufacturing will return to the US, which has far stricter environmental guidelines than countries in the Orient. This will, in itself, bring about a significant reduction in global pollution.

Chicken Little can live to fight another day!

3. Education

Photo credit:

With a promise to end Common Core and bring about parental choice in schools, Mr. Trump is threatening to end the system which has led to the US ranking 35th out of 64 nations for mathematics and producing college students who need crayons and puppy dogs to cope with the grief of discovering that there are no participation trophies for backing the loser in an election.

Common Core is a set of standards that aims to teach children the things they need to know to meet a common requirement for further education and employment. The system was first developed in 2009 under President Obama and was finally implemented in 2010. Since then, three states have voluntarily dropped the standards and Mr. Trump is vowing to abolish them entirely.

Whether or not the replacement for Common Core will correct the dismal record of the US education system over the last six years remains to be seen. What is certain, however, is that in the end the blame for a child’s success will be laid at the feet of his parents because it will be their choice on how and where to educate their child.

2. Tax Reform


Tax reform seems to come up in every election, but not since Mr. Reagan has such a grand range of tax cuts been proposed. Under the new scheme, which will reduce the total tax brackets from seven to three (12 percent, 25 percent, and 33 percent) and increase the standard deductions, the majority of Americans will save money. A small number of the lowest-income earners will see their tax rate rise by 2 percentage points from 10 percent to 12 percent.

The corporate tax rate will also drop to 15 percent, making it one of the most competitive in the world. The knock-on effect of this will be to promote the return of US companies operating abroad for tax gains.

This means more business bringing more jobs and more money in each worker’s pocket, which means more money being spent. In turn, this could help reverse the decline in the overall economy.

Changes to the tax system can take a while to notice, so this won’t be an immediate and obvious fix. But it could have great benefits in the longer term.

1. Infrastructure

I must be honest and say that I am not at all a fan of Mr. Trump’s very flamboyant home decor. But having recently stayed at a Trump Hotel while in New York on business, I am glad to say that it doesn’t extend past his marbled domicile.

A frequent issue that arose during the election was the deplorable state of US airports and infrastructure in general. I can certainly vouch for that! Over the next few years, both the Republicans and the Democrats have agreed that they will support any bills that pump funds into sorting this out once and for all. Here’s hoping that in a short amount of time, travel across the US will once again be a pleasant and appealing thing.

Let us end with the words of Mr. Trump in what could well be his most historic speech:
“We will rebuild our roads, bridges, tunnels, highways, airports, schools and hospitals.
American cars will travel the roads, American planes will soar the skies, and American ships will patrol the seas.
American steel will send new skyscrapers into the clouds.
American hands will rebuild this nation - and American energy, harvested from American sources, will power this nation. American workers will be hired to do the job.
We will put new American metal into the spine of this country.
Jobs will return, incomes will rise, and new factories will come rushing back to our shores.
We will make America wealthy again.
We will make America strong again.
And we will make America great again.”

Top image credit: Truth Uncensored.

[Source: Listverse.]


Pick Your Poison: Some Venom Can Be Healing
By Stephanie Bucklin,
Live Science, 18 January 2017.

Poison isn't always bad for you. The venom of some creatures may actually have medical applications.

The practice of turning venoms from animals into cures for people dates back to at least ancient Rome, according to a 2015 paper in the World Journal of Biological Chemistry. The Romans looked to animal venoms for ways to treat conditions including smallpox and leprosy.

Today's researchers still look to the animal kingdom's many venoms in their search for treatments. Live Science has rounded up some of the early research on seven creatures whose poisons may one day be made into drugs. These could treat diseases ranging from type 2 diabetes to breast cancer.

1. Platypus' spurs

Credit: E.Lonnon/Wikimedia Commons

During mating season, the male platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) has an unusual trick up its sleeve: venom-filled spurs. The spurs [pictured above] are located on the animal's hind leg and are active only in spring. Scientists speculate the spurs are used in competition, to disable other males during fights. But the venom may also help treat type 2 diabetes: A 2016 study published in the journal Nature described how a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which is produced in the gut of the platypus and helps regulate the animal's blood-glucose levels, is also found in the platypus's venom.

When injected into a victim, the hormone may rapidly lower blood glucose levels to the point of debilitation, the researchers said. But a compound that quickly lowers blood sugar levels could be a handy treatment for people with diabetes, the scientists added.

Much more research is needed to determine whether this compound can be made into a safe drug for people, the investigators said. But the researchers also found that this hormone breaks down at a much slower rate than the same hormone in humans, which suggests that it could be used to help maintain a proper blood sugar balance in people's bodies.

2. Spiders' fangs

Credit: The Lancet

Spiders have evolved a wide variety of venoms to subdue their prey, making these creatures a rich avenue for drug discovery, said a 2010 review of spider venom research published in the journal Toxins. For example, a protein called M-TRTX-Gr1a that is found in the venom of the Chilean rose tarantula [pictured above] could help treat muscular dystrophy by preventing or slowing down the deterioration of muscles, the researchers wrote.

In addition, researchers said they hope that further study of spider venoms may lead to treatments for cardiac arrhythmias, spinal cord damage and other conditions. [Spider-Man: 5 Weird Effects of Real Spider Bites]

Spider venom could also one day treat erectile dysfunction, the researchers said. In their review, they noted that people in South America who are bitten by a spider called the "armed spider" can experience priapism, or a long-lasting erection. The researchers also cited a 2008 study published in the journal BJU International that showed that rats injected with one toxin from the Brazilian spider Phoneutria nigriventer developed an erection, with no side effects.

3. Sea anemones' tentacles

Credit: Neville Wootton/Wikimedia Commons

The sea anemone Heteractis magnifica [pictured above] uses its venom as both a defense against predators and as a way to capture prey. The venom includes a mix of poisons, such as neurotoxins, and is found in cells within the creature's tentacles. Recently, researchers discovered that this venom can also destroy human lung and breast cancer cells, according to findings published in 2016 in the book "The Cnidaria, Past, Present and Future" (Springer International Publishing, 2016).

In experiments conducted in lab dishes, researchers found that this anemone's venom kills human lung and breast cancer cells by inducing the cells to undergo apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Furthermore, the sea anemone's venom also helped control cell cycle progression in these cancer cells, limiting the uncontrollable growth that is characteristic of cancer cells. More research is needed to determine how exactly the venom exerts these effects, and whether a drug based on this venom would work the same in people, the researchers said.

4. Scorpions' stingers

Credit: JAdams1776/Wikimedia Commons

The scorpion's tail ends in a telson, or stinger, which the scorpion uses to inject its prey with a venom that can paralyze or kill. But in a 2013 review in the journal Molecular Aspects of Inflammation, researchers suggested that a drug based on the venom could one day also be used to treat people with autoimmune diseases.

Many autoimmune conditions develop when the body loses the ability to regulate certain controls of the immune system, which then attacks the body's own tissues. Scorpion venom contains compounds that could stop this response by inhibiting certain potassium channels in cells, preventing inflammation. Working via a similar method, the venom could also have applications in preventing the rejection of donated organs, the study noted. [9 Most Interesting Organ Transplants]

5. Cone snails' barbs

Credit: Abdecoral/Pixabay

Cone snails are sea snails that, depending on their size, prey on small fish or marine worms. The snails use a needle-like barbed "tooth" that contains venom, and shoots out and paralyzes their prey. But their venom actually has therapeutic properties as well: Researchers have developed a painkiller called Prialt, which is 1,000 times more powerful than morphine, from cone snail venom.

The drug is a synthetic form of a peptide found in the venom and was approved by the FDA in 2004. However, it has to be directly injected into the spinal column, because it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning that if the drug is taken orally or even injected into the bloodstream, it cannot enter the brain.

However, a 2015 study in the journal Nature showed how certain carrier molecules could help Prialt cross the blood-brain barrier. This might mean that, eventually, Prialt will become easier to administer, perhaps even being produced in pill form.

6. Centipedes' fangs


Large centipedes, such as those in the order Scolopendromorpha and the family Scolopendridae, have venomous fangs located on their first pair of legs. They use these fangs to defend themselves against predators and capture prey that can include rats, amphibians and even some reptiles. But this venom may have a number of medical uses as well, a 2015 review in the journal Toxins showed. So far, about 50 compounds in centipede venom have been found to have pharmacological properties, the researchers wrote.

For example, a drug based on centipede venom could be used as a local anesthetic to dull pain, as an anticonvulsant to treat epilepsy or as a potential antibiotic. However, these possibilities, which are based on discoveries such as inhibitors or microbial properties in the venom, require further research before the venom could be used clinically, researchers said. [No Creepy Crawlies Here: Gallery of the Cutest Bugs]

7. Leeches' teeth

Credit: GlebK/Wikimedia Commons

The leech Hirudo medicinalis [pictured above] has about 100 tiny, sharp teeth that it uses to dig into a host, before it injects compounds that reduce pain and prevent blood from coagulating. The leech's venom, called hirudin, is produced in the animal's salivary glands.

In a 2016 study published in the journal Molecular Genetics and Genomics, researchers dove into the many genes of the leech that encode compounds within hirudin, and showed that leeches can actually express numerous types of the venom. A drug based on the compounds in hirudin could have therapeutic use, for example, in treating varicose veins or increasing circulation, the study authors said.

Top image: A scorpion's stinger. Credit: Brent Bristol/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

[Source: Live Science. Edited. Some images added.]