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 deathstalker is one of the most dangerous, but expensive scorpions pic.twitter.com/oZrADgYO9A
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) December 21, 2018
The potential profit has some joking about starting their own Deathstalker farm.
Time to go hunting.
— United In My Blood(RED👹) (@UnitedOnce) October 19, 2018
I will have to check if I have any on my property. If so, we can perhaps start a new type of farm…milking scorpions!
The venom from a deathstalker scorpion can be deadly. It can also make you quite a bit of money. Here's why. https://t.co/9aindmmlOx
— Donald Daggett, B.Sc, CIMA, CIM (@DDaggettWG) October 23, 2018
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.
— Trey Graham (@treygraham) April 24, 2017
Although the venom of the deathstalker, one of the most dangerous scorpions in the world, is life-threatening, it also has the potential to help treat brain tumors. pic.twitter.com/dOUOPNbK58
— Believe It or Not! (@Ripleys) December 16, 2017
When I met the Deathstalker scorpion, one of the most dangerous in the world, she surprised @ROMtoronto staff by responding to me in this way. She doesn't do it for others, but starting Monday, maybe you? pic.twitter.com/zSVb4vMzoB
— Kris Abel (@RealKrisAbel) September 20, 2018
— Royal Ontario Museum (@ROMtoronto) November 30, 2018
— Matt Clayton (@ubergeek1975) December 29, 2014
Deathstalker scorpion…could it have a more badass name #PlanetEarth
— Asif Pathan (@akpat786) November 27, 2016
#FOTD The Deathstalker Scorpion has the most toxic venom of the scorpions for which results exists
— Steve Backshall (@SteveBackshall) September 13, 2015
Though its sting certainly isn’t enviable, this little critter may just lead to some stunning breakthroughs in medicine.