Streams

The Dark, Magical and Mysterious Power of Poison : Slideshow

Saturday, November 16, 2013

© AMNH/T. Grant
The skin of the Golden Poison Frog (Phyllobates terribilis) is, ounce for ounce, one of the most toxic substances on earth.

The exhibition includes a life-sized scene of the Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The saying “mad as a hatter” dates back to the 19th century, when mercuric nitrate was used in the millinery industry to turn fur into felt. Hatters working in poorly ventilated factories breathed in toxic fumes, and prolonged exposure led to mercury poisoning with symptoms—such as trembling, memory loss, depression, irritability, and anxiety—that are still described as “mad hatter’s disease.”

©AMNH/R. Mickens
The “enchanted” book resembles an ancient botanical volume and displays animations of well-known poisonous plant species, including belladonna and monkshood.
©AMNH/D. Finnin
Life-size walkthrough environment of a remote Colombian forest called Chocó.
©AMNH/R. Mickens
Flame butterfly caterpillar (Dryas iulia)

After a series of military defeats, Napoleon Bonaparte, famed general and emperor of France, spent his last years in exile on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic. Although he believed he was being poisoned by his British captors, an autopsy after his death pointed to stomach cancer. Researchers today still debate whether toxic metals may indeed have hastened his death.

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