There are few times when anyone is actually glad to come upon a scorpion. With loathsome pincers and painful venom, the creatures are widely regarded as terrifying and sometimes even deadly.
But in the case of the Deathstalker scorpion, its venom is proving to be quite useful—so useful that it's become the most expensive liquid on the planet.
At $39 million for a single gallon, the sums paid for the venom make other expensive liquids like oil and fine liquor seem cheap. What's more, an entire gallon isn't easy to come by. Most Deathstalkers only release millimeters of the venom at a time, so the process is long and hazardous.
But the venom's potential justifies the price, with many of its components setting the stage for a number of revelatory scientific breakthroughs.
Watch Business Insider's scoop below:
The potential profit has some joking about starting their own Deathstalker farm.
But the benefits of the Deathstalker venom are no laughing matter. Chlorotoxins in the liquid are ideal for binding with cancer cells in the brain, allowing researchers to more precisely identify the size and scope of tumors and malignant cell clusters without sacrificing healthy tissue.
Other components in the venom are helping fight everything from malaria to bone disease.
As the uses for the venom continue to grow, researchers are trying to find a more efficient way of gathering the venom, which is almost always extracted by hand.
But being one of the most dangerous scorpions in the world, extracting the venom brings a wealth of hazards.
While a sting from the Deathstalker isn't usually lethal, the pain one sting imposes is visceral.
Steve Trim, the founder of Venomtech, elaborated on this:
"I'd easily put it being a hundred times more painful than a bee sting, but because pain is a subjective and emotional experience, it's difficult to really get a quantification on that. But it's definitely gonna ruin your day."
Nevertheless, the scorpion has been mystifying people for years.
Though its sting certainly isn't enviable, this little critter may just lead to some stunning breakthroughs in medicine.