Delve into the fascinating world of venom and venomous species, and discover how this deadly substance can also be the best hope for a cure.

When it comes to venom, most people think of snakes and spiders in hostile environments, but as this major new exhibition shows, venomous species live all over the world and there are some surprising culprits. The duck-billed platypus is not quite as cute as it looks, some ants have a nastier bite than a cobra, and even your seafood dinner might not always have been so innocent.

The exhibition examines the various biological roles of venom and considers the points of view of both predator and prey. On display are examples of the most deadly such as the box jellyfish, the largest-fanged, which is the gaboon viper, and the most unexpected – the emperor scorpion incorporates ‘sexual stingings’ into its mating behaviour, and a pretty flower urchin can cause muscular paralysis in humans for up to six hours.

But before you run away screaming, venom has also been vital in fighting some of our most serious diseases. Throughout history humans have sought ways to utilise the fearful substance and, today, research is unlocking its potential to help conditions as diverse as diabetes and impotence. It seems the one thing more powerful than the fear of venom, is its fascination

Natural History Museum

Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD

020 7942 5000

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Opening times

Daily, 10am – 5.50pm

Closed 24 – 26 Dec

Free to all

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