Why Poetry - Matthew Zapruder - Hardcover
2 months ago
Apheloria corrugate is a chemistry marvel. It produces hydrogen cyanide (HCN). HCN, also known as cyanide, is a well-known poison that once inhaled will compromise the respiratory processes on a molecular level and in high enough doses result in death.
Storage of the HCN is a slightly complicated task. Since HCN is a gas at room temperature and could harm Apheloria corrugate if they stored it as HCN, their bodies are designed to store it in a special way. On both sides segments 5,7,9,10,12,13, and 15 to 19 of its body, they have two different chambers that each contain a different chemical that produce HCN when they are mixed.
When they want to defend themselves, they release the first chemical (mandelonitrile) from its storage chamber into the reaction chamber that contains an enzyme (benzoyl cyanide). Once these mix, they produce benzoic acid and HCN. It secretes from glandular pores located on each side of 11 segments of its body. They produce droplets that stay attached to the gland opening. Shortly after they secret HCN, the smell of bitter almonds will surface which will kill most of their enemies.
An adult Apheloria corrugate can produce as much as 0.6 milligrams of HCN. This is enough to kill ants and deter many of their other enemies. It's 6 times the lethal dose of a 25-gram mouse and 0.01 times the lethal dose of a human.
Richard Dawkins uses the example of how the force of pounding surf, given enough time, will eventually sort all the rocks on a beach, tossing the lighter rocks farther up the shore, and leaving the heavier rocks closer to the water. To the passing observer, it would seem that this order and organization in nature must be the result of intelligence. But no, it's just physics.