Pitting a mouse against a venomous scorpion might seem like an unfair fight — but after you see this footage, you won’t feel a bit sorry for the rodent.
The cuddly looking grasshopper mouse, native to the southwestern United States, actually preys upon scorpions. Though it is bound to get stung multiple times by its adversary in a fight, the mouse has developed an adaptation that actually allows it to treat the venom into a painkiller of sorts. Other mammals of similar size are killed by such stings, according to Michigan State University professor Ashlee Rowe.
“The mice have evolved the ability to be stung multiple times but remain relatively unfazed,” Rowe, who researched the unique adaptations of the mice while at University of Texas in Austin. “Not only is the mouse unfazed, but it actually feels less pain after being stung.”
Watch the battle:
Researchers at the universities are looking into this conversion of venom to an analgesic on a molecular level, thinking it could someday have applications in human medicine.
How it works in the mouse is the venom binds to sodium channels in mouse neurons that detect pain and blocks them from sending that signal to the brain, according to the research.
The genetic difference found in the grasshopper mouse compared to other mammals vulnerable to the scorpion sting is one amino acid.
“Incredibly, there is one amino acid substitution that can totally alter the behavior of the toxin and block the channel,” fellow researcher Harold Zakon with the University of Texas said.
(H/T: Huffington Post)