Why Do Venomous Animals Live In Warm Climates?


[WARNING! SPIDERS IN THE VIDEO ] Why are the most venomous species found in the warmest places on Earth? I mean, take Australia for example. Depending on who you ask, it has all or nearly all of the ten most venomous snakes in the world, plus the funnel-Web spider, the blue ringed octopus, box jellyfish, paralysis tick and stonefish, all found in Australia, are the most lethal of their kind and even this cute platypus has an ankle spur, which in the male, secretes a venom that can kill a dog. In humans it would merely cause excruciating pain. This question, why do the most venomous species live in the warmest places, is one that I’ve wondered about for most of my life. Perhaps it’s because I was born here in the small town of Traralgon, Australia. This is the first house where I ever lived. As my mum recalls {Derek’s Mum}”in the backyard there was a shade where we found red backs, and I used to play in the shed? {Derek’s Mum}”I don’t think once we found the red backs that we let you in there.”. Yeah, that’s very comforting. Thanks mum. Now if you don’t know what a red back is, it’s a very poisonous spider. Hold up. I gotta tell past Derek something. You see it’s important that we say venomous and not poisonous because poisonous means it’ll be harmful if you eat it, whereas venomous means it’ll try to eat you and that will be harmful. Continue. So thankfully they never bit me, otherwise, I wouldn’t be standing here today. Now before we go any further, it’s probably worth asking, is it true, do more venomous species really live in hot places? Well apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so because I found this reddit thread on the topic. Though, it really didn’t explain why that was the case. But what about the data? Well, here is a map of the global average temperatures. Compare that with this map that I’ve colored in according to the number of venomous species in each country. The country with the most venomous species is Mexico with eighty different organisms with the power to kill you. That’s followed closely by Brazil and then Australia. Well this seems to all match up very well with the global average temperatures. So why is it so? My first hypothesis was that there’s something about the heat which enables the formation of these venom molecules. So I ran that idea past Professor Polyakov of Periodic Videos {Professor Polyakov}”no intent filter” [alright] “because the reason is that if you go up a ten degrees centigrade change in temperature round about room temperature [okay], will only double the rate of most chemical reactions and I don’t think anything evolutionary is likely to evolve to such a big difference based on just a factor of two in the rates.” So maybe it’s worth asking what are these venom molecules exactly? Well, in most species where the venom is delivered by fangs it is evolved from saliva. In the funnel-web spider for example, the lethal effect seems quite accidental. What you’ve got to understand about venom, it’s there, it’s a secondary thing that it actually kills. The actual reason that spiders have got venom is to digest their prey. That they happen to do most of it before they actually eat it. Injecting the venom and the venom will start to liquefy whatever they’ve caught and, once it’s turned to liquid, all spiders live on soup. The funnel-web evolved without any humans or other primates around and yet, ironically, its venom is most potent for exactly this group. Biggest evolutionary joke ever, the only group of animals with backbones that’s actually allergic to their venom are the primates. We don’t have primates in Australia. All right, so it’s lemurs, monkeys, apes and us. Thus most species deliver, not just one type of venom molecule but a whole cocktail of different proteins that range in length from short chain to very long chain molecules and these molecules can serve a range of functions. Some are neurotoxins which can disable your nervous system. Others are hemotoxins which actually attack your blood cells and can dissolve tissues, but since we’re talking about cocktails, what would happen if you drank some venom? You could take a vial of taipan venom and happily have it with your scotch and it wouldn’t be a problem as long as you didn’t have any irritation on the mucosal lining or any stomach ulcer or things like this. It’s got to get into the bloodstream to be a problem. Okay, so since drinking the venom is not gonna kill you, what should you do if you get bitten by say an inland taipan? That’s the world’s most venomous land snake. What you do? Don’t panic. Stay calm. I think that would be easier said than done. The venom travels through the lymphatic system, so it doesn’t usually travel through the veins or the blood vessels, so that’s just quite close on under the skin, and if it reaches your nervous system it’ll shut down the signaling pathways that keep your heart beating and your lungs breathing, and so what actually kills you is suffocation. So what you need to do is stay very still and bandage up the limb that’s been bitten from the tip all the way back to your torso. Now the bandage needs to be really tight to trap the venom within the lymphatic system, but not so tight as to cut off the blood flow to the limb. Now once you’ve got it bandaged up, you need to find some anti-venom. What is anti-venom? Well, it’s made by injecting a large organism like a horse with a dilute solution of the venom. The horse then produces antibodies for that venom which you can harvest and inject into yourself in case you get bitten. Making anti-venom is tough work. It would take seventy milkings of a funnel-web spider to get enough venom to make a single dose of anti-venom and what’s worse anti-venom can only be used on an individual a limited number of times because over those uses your body will build up antibodies to the anti-venom making the anti-venom ineffective. So you might wonder well, why can’t you just inject yourself with dilute amounts of venom and build up your own antibodies to the venom? That would work except for the fact that when you get bitten you need to have a lot of antibodies in your system and to keep your antibodies at that high level you would need to keep injecting yourself with the venom, say every month and that’s probably not the best thing for you. But why is it that people in warm climates need to worry about this and not people in cold climates? Well, I went to the experts to find out about this trend. You know broadly, yeah, there’s really not much of a pattern happening. Really? What about that reddit thread and the map I made? If you’re saying, is there a global pattern showing that you get more venomous animals in hot places, I don’t know if there is. In snakes, which is the group that I’m most familiar with, in Australia the pattern is the diametric reverse of that one. If you wander around Southern Australia, every snake you find on that Kosciusko is venomous. If you wander around the tropics of Darwin, you’re very unlikely to see a venomous snake. They’re all pythons and harmless colubrid snakes. Now this is unexpected. The most venomous snakes in Australia live in the coldest places and the reason for that is? 20 million years ago an itinerant sea snake coming down from Asia as Australia drifted up to Asia, got to Australia. It was venomous to start with. There were no snakes in Australia at the time and so venomous snakes radiated through Australia. This big family called the elapid II the Cobra family. Okay, but on a global scale, my point remains. There are more venomous species in hot countries. There’s gonna be vastly more venomous snakes in a warm climate area than in a cold climate area. The problem is that there’s vastly more snakes. So as a proportion of the snakes that are there, the venomous guys are probably going to be about the same and maybe even less in the case of a place like Australia than they would be in a cold area. So why are there more venomous species in warm places? Well the truth is there aren’t, at least not as a proportion of species. The majority of venomous species on Earth are ectotherms. Those are organisms whose body temperatures are regulated by their surroundings. Now that means that they can only really have short bursts of energy, so instead of chasing down prey and running away from predators, they needed a different strategy to allow them to survive and so many of them evolved venom. There is a greater diversity of ectotherms in warm climates, so it only stands to reason that there will be a greater number of venomous species. But that’s not to say that there aren’t venomous species in cold places. The only snakes that get into the arctic circle are European vipers, a venomous species. But biodiversity alone isn’t the complete answer to this question. It also depends on evolutionary history. If you had come to Australia 20 million years ago, there would have been no snakes at all. The venomous ones got here first and the non-venomous came after. I think it’s a really lousy explanation, but it’s the best one that we’ve got. Why is that a lousy explanation? Well it’s doesn’t invite any lovely complicated piece of ecological theory or anything else. It’s just relying on history. But this is a pattern that’s very strong and doesn’t seem to be explicable any other way and nowadays in Hawaii there are no venomous snakes and the same goes for Jamaica. These are warm places that just haven’t evolved or have lost any venomous snakes that they may have had. So it might just be a lucky accident that we’ve been fortunate enough to be blessed with a few venomous spiders. I am also reminded that we’re living in a particular point in time, roughly 15,000 years after the last ice age. Now that would have wiped a lot of the ectotherms from the Northern Latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. For example, in Ireland there are no snakes because the place was wiped clean by an ice sheet and snakes haven’t managed to get back to the island yet. My point is the distribution of species depends on what happened. It may be an unsatisfying explanation, but I’d rather know the truth than just believe in a trend that’s not actually there. Really? [you’re] a decimal What do you think is gonna happen to the spot on the screen as I narrow… The color of the blue morpho is created by the structure of its scales Which is what you do – butterflies? But see all your organs [are] where the signs are getting lost – wings makes mathletes [a] trap the light and if you should not flare out Would never realize with the size learns and certainty [prints] directed alert so… As I started to go through this big investigation, I realize just how complicated this is and how many mysteries are still out there. For example, why are some species deadly venomous and in others the venom is is pretty weak, and I didn’t end up with anything. The deadly guys turned out to have ecologies that are very similar to the guys with very weak venom and it may be a historical accident. Another strange observation is that a lot of snakes that have evolved more recently have actually lost the ability to produce venom. The big success story in snakes worldwide are the harmless ones. They’ve actually evolved from venomous snakes Venom is an ancestral characteristic in modern snakes. The successful snakes are the ones that left it behind and they gave it up and they’re proliferated despite not having venom, Apparently the cost of making venom isn’t much more than the cost of making saliva. So it seems curious that they would lose what seems to be a killer advantage over other species. If you have thoughts about this or any other mysteries regarding the global distribution of venomous species put them in the comments below.

Comments 100

  • But it still gets hot in southern Australia. I've experienced 50C in Victoria and there are lots of Brown and Tiger snakes around here. They can kill you. No funnel-web spiders though.

  • Mind blown !

  • if you injected trace amounts of venom for long enough would they just stay?

  • Why non-venomous snakes are more successful than venomous ones may have something to do with venomous ones being viewed more as a threat and eliminated by other species. Like lions will preemptively attack hyenas because they know they are a threat.

  • I'm sorry but this question is stupid man. Maby its because snakes and spiders dont like colder climates. I mean there are more snakes and spiders in warmer climates vs cold. Thats all there is to it.

  • هاي في تب ك

  • ♥️❤️💓💕💋😍🤣

  • Whats the song in the background at 4:25

  • Life thrives in warmer climates.

  • Past Derrick seems like a dic

  • right you Australians have bugs that kill you Russians have bears that eat you

  • its too hot to chase down prey you need to kill them quick

  • They’re verminous, the live exactly where the want to!

  • 1:50. You don't even have to include the cartel..ha

  • Why did the ice age drive the snakes out of Ireland, but not Scotland, which is at higher latitude??

  • Because they're cold blooded. I don't need 11:40 for that.

  • You’re telling me I can drink venom, and not have it go into my blood stream like a high blood alcohol level

  • I think the sound is panned to the left, (using a stereo headset here)

  • Here on Balkan we got like 2 venomous snakes and that's all about what can kill you by putting venom into blood. There are few spiders and scorpions and insects venomous just a little bit and they need army of attackers to kill you(hornets are kinda big thing these days).
    But all that lack of venomous things is balanced by abondence of warm blood animals which actually don't need venom to kill you: bear, wolf, koyote, wild boar, fox, deer(surprisingly dangerous)

  • Well, Im still not convinced of this conclusion. Ofcourse there are more venomous animals in warm countries. I mean come on; Canada, Greenland, all the nordic countries, the north pole and the south pole, are virtually free of venoumus animals. And in Europe the few dangerous ones live in the southern parts. In Russia they all also live in the southern parts of the country. At the same time, in Australia it feels like just about everything is venomous and out to get you, in Mexico its even worse. And I dont think the tropics/djungles/countries like Brasil, are safe from venomous species either. Africa also got its share. And Asia as well. Naaa, those dudes are definitely missing something.

  • ur chest hair re so sexy dude

  • I didn't know alaska was a country

  • you are south african ….just admit it.

  • I'm less than 2 mins in, so you may cover this later….but most of the venomous species are cold blooded. So more heat = more energy. More disposable energy = higher probability of developing some useful chemicals….
    Imagine you're making a solution, like a simple syrup. The sugar will dissolve in cold water, but it will dissolve a lot quicker in warm water. Heat is a catalyst for chemical reactions.

  • arent snakes cold-blooded

  • Who is this guy?
    He’s so gorgeous. Makes me wish I was closer to 25 than 15 rn
    Wow 👋❤️❤️💕💕🥰🥰

  • Muchas gracias por la información, no me lo había preguntado, pero ahora me da mucho gusto saberlo.

  • there seems to be a correlation between deserts and venom

  • how do snakes "evolve" venom? why did it only happen to certain groups? spiders, snakes, but not primates or birds? is it just chance? (no, I'm not saying design)

  • A better question: why did I just watch a video based on a BS premise with a click-bait title? I give it one thumb down (two if I could).

  • I'm from Longford (just outside of Sale) watching from Edinburgh 🙂

  • Isn't this just sort of an artifact of: more things live in warmer places? I'd wager diversity of species and overall population of organisms is also higher in warmer areas. If 5% of species are venomous and mexico has 1000 while canada has 100, then you get 10x the venomous species in mexico.

    Ah I guess they address this at 7:40. That's what I get for watching old Veritasium.

  • HMMMMM…no Aussi accent…Whitecaps bell Tee shirt……You're not Australian mate! I bet you don't even have shrimp on the barrie or drink Fosters! Most likely carry a small swiss army knife too!

  • because they all eat Curry innit

  • im still not satisfied with the answer. they prefer warmer climates period.

  • In before I watch the rest of the video. I would think this is because most venomous creatures deliver their venom from a sting or bite which is required to pierce the skin and inject the venom into the blood. Species that are successful in colder climates tend to have thick layers of fur/skin/hide/blubber which would make it more difficult or borderline impossible for venomous species to deliver a lethal strike. So venomous species naturally became more successful in warmer climates where their prey did not develop these mechanisms to insulate from the cold.

  • dude venomous snakes live in mn man

  • I find it hard to believe that anyone who graduated from elementary school doesn't know the answer to this question. What's next, where does ice come from?

  • my left ear enjoyed the video

  • its becasue God is an assshole monster

  • Damn, Derek, the class this guy is giving 3:32 and your face while listening to him is priceless

  • There is one venomous snake in Hawaii The Yellow Bellied Sea Snake So please if your going to post a Video get your facts right

  • So, you’re saying St Patrick had ice powers? Got it 😀

  • The map shows also East Germany lol

  • Isn't it about energy conservation. In hot climates energy is precious. It takes less energy to bite something and let it die than it does to fight it. The same thing goes for defense, if the platypus gets you with their spurs the venom causes pain so the platypus doesn't have to fight for survival

  • i stopped the video at 1:41 and can tell you its because of the diversity level difference between warm and cool climates and energy consumption to produce venom/poison

  • We use them as yank deterrent.

  • Lol, every thing in Australia wants to kill you is true

  • ok, but what about agression? I have seen things how the same species of snake or spider will be more aggressive in the valley than up a mountain
    Heat seems to make everyone aggressive even people

  • Here's my answer: 1. Because most venomous animals mainly hunt coldblooded prey. In warm regions the blood of coldblooded animals is… well err… less cold which makes the chemical reactions venom is based on take place faster and with greater effect… Meaning prey dies faster and the hunter can avoid their prey escaping or even wounding them more often.
    2. Tropical rainforests and coral reefs occur only in warm climates and house a huge chunk of the worlds species in general (venomous or not).
    3. Venom usually evolves to effectively hunt only a handful of very specific prey species; venom is often a specialist survival strategy. Tropical rainforests and coral reefs have far more specialist species than any other type of environment in nature.

  • Australia has all or nearly all, hmmmm

  • In the first two predator movies the predator hunts in very hot climates….

  • Your "Redback" appears similar to North America's "Black Widdow", but I'm sure it's a all together different species

  • 2:50 Thanks Derek, now how am I supposed to sleep tonight?! 😰😰😱

  • Is it true venomous snakes loose their toxicity in a hypoberic chamber?

  • One reason why some snakes species lost their venom is that evolution follows "use or loose it" law – if there is no gain from having venom, it is possible for it to got lost due to genetic drift / random mutations.

  • Would'nt the same ice what covered Ireland have covered England as well?
    There's snakes in southern England including the Viper.

  • Wouldnt the countries with the most species have the most venomous species. The warm places are the most biodiverse so obviously…

  • You're the smartest thing that's ever come out of Taralgon. No contest.

  • DON'T SHOW ME SPIDERS WHEN I'M IN BED AT 11 PM TRYING TO SLEEP i almost got a heart attack
    Great vid

  • ummm Bruce Willis?

  • The minute they started talking about evolution I knew this video was full of crap

  • Welllll Australia was in isolation for a really long time so a lot of organism evolved and probably a lot of predators, so species with venoms live longer and they outlive others of the same species so basically natural selection idk bro thas my hypothesis

  • I live in a cold place, almost no insects, and almost no snakes, only mammals and birds can live here, as most poisonous are reptiles only in hot places are found

  • I know this video is a couple minutes old (LOL) but was wondering… at 2:13 we see the estimable Prof. Martyn Poliakoff, who has a remarkable head of hair. And he's obviously very smart.

    I find it interesting with his hair style, and wonder if his hair has some “allergy” to brain activity. Another guy that was kinda smart, Mr. A. Einstein, had a similar hairstyle…

    Is there any connection to flat hair and morons, and wild hair and Brainiacs???

    Anybody else wonder this, or am I just a "flat-hair"?

  • I've just been to Traralgon. Nice little town!

  • In my country 33% of all the snake species are venomous. We have a viper and two different grass snake species 🙂

  • BEST to Hunt snakes in the COLD winter. They are slower.
    Next kill the snake & skin it. Make a belt or hat band.

  • Meh. Linguistics.

    Actually, there is a clear trend, and you ended up explaining why it's there.

  • Because snakes are cold blooded … Duh

  • How did you lose your Aussie accent?

  • In the map, please show Jammu and Kashmir as part of India!

  • Massasauga rattler is up here in Canada and it's cold cold cold in the winter

  • The temperatures around my house get down to 0°F every winter and it lasts a couple of months. We are also surrounded by rattle snakes. Its not exactly a warm climate.

  • Those "scientists" are a bunch of jokers. The only reply they have is, you know 200milion years ago we think something happend and 150milion years later we think something else happend maybe someone was swimming and ended up in Australia and there is no other evidence to the contrary. So if anyone says something else they are stupid, we are the smart once here. Bunch of jokers.

  • It's hard to believe that there are no snakes in Ireland.

  • Questions are more in this world than answers.. Damn it..

  • There seems to be evidence that the highly venomous Australian snake called the copperhead is evolving to withstand colder and colder temperatures -the snake is common in areas with long periods of cold like the highlands of Tasmania and Victoria and has been increasingly observed to come out in colder and colder weather even taking to the water on cold days.Could it mean that snakes eventually might survive colder and colder conditions all over the world and not have hibernation periods? A scary thought!

  • I think it has to do with the delivery method. You see, colder climate animals have more cover for the cold, whether fat layers, (which when evolving would cause the prey to have time to alter its biochemistry to deal with the predator prey cycle. You see evolution primes the delivery method also. Just look at a scorpion. Here in washington state we have scorpions at the 47th latitude, over half way to the north pole. And rattlesnakes live further north than we are a few degrees. In other words it is the delivery method evolving that causes the warmer place to be more beneficial, I mean we don't have poison dart frogs here but we do have poisonous fungi, like amanita death cap, rattlesnakes and scorpions. 3 types. It gets very cold here in winter, -30 degrees. None of these are active during that cold time.

  • Endcard totally shocked me, I didn't expect that sound

  • There is also an other thing that correlate with average temperature …. 😉

  • ..because snake got no chill

  • Exactly the explanation I immediately thought. "Well, snakes and spiders are most likely to live in warm climates, aren't they?"

  • my reason for why australia has the most venomous snakes is because opportunities for snakes to eat don't happen as often as in other continents and some of the animals can cover large distances more easily. eg. kangaroos aren't the only australian creature that has that efficient method of movement called hopping. there is a subspecies of tiger snake that lives on chappell island and it has evolved to survive on one short period of the year when there is food on the island-nesting birds. probably something along this line for some of the spiders. i can't think of a reason for why australian seas have such incredibly venomous jellyfish. and the most dangerous creature in tasmania isn't a devil, its a jumping ant. i found a safety brochure from america that mentioned that if you were to get stung by the barbs of a particular fish you should apply hot water, as hot as you can stand, to the affected area. it disables the proteins. egg proteins are disabled by heating-the white goes white and the yolk goes hard. all venoms are protein-based. i live here. i'll be putting hot water on any bite or sting immediately after calling the ambulance.

  • I think sea in the hot area has more venomous sea animals than cold area. All of the sea are linked as one, so they can move freely, there is no noise like land animal case. "I think."

  • when you do a happy dance. because – without knowing anything about the topic – in the first few seconds of the video you think of a possible reason…. and then that turns out to be the solution to the question…. yay

  • It is not important at all. We use the same word for venemous and poisonous in german "giftig". It was never of importance and never will be.

  • 1:14
    By your logic, Lions are venomous.

  • nice video.. but you shouldn't keep focus so close to your face…

  • OK! …I've watched (and LIKED) a few vids, so far…. Aussie/Canadian?! ….SUBSCRIBED!!

  • I don't like the word evolution when it's used in this context

  • simply said snakes are reptiles and reptiles are cold-blooded so they live in warm climates.

  • Hooooold on, he's said he was brought up in South Africa, and moved away at age 4… So now he was born in Australia? When he was talking about SA it sounded like he was born there too…

  • Simply put correlation is not causation
    There are other factors

  • Rip my left ear

  • Easy on the zoom there bud

  • I would have an easier time watching this guy if he wasn't permanently sneering and talking out the side of his mouth.

  • On short, because they are EVEL and they say HELL is hot

  • The cost of saliva is HUGE!

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