Wednesday Science Night takes a look at different species of deadly animals such as the venomous Black Mamba, and crop crippling rats that are found in various geographic locations around the world today.
Nature Black Mamba 7 pm
The black mamba is one of Africa’s most dangerous and feared snakes, known for being very aggressive when disturbed. Rearing up with its head four feet above the ground, it strikes with deadly precision, delivering venom that is packed with three different kinds of toxins and is ten times more deadly than needed to kill an adult human. Without treatment the mortality rate is 100%, the highest among all venomous snakes in the world. Until now, little has been known about the black mamba’s natural behavior in the wild because in Africa most people kill a black mamba on sight and feel lucky to have done so. But in the tiny country of Swaziland in southern Africa, a team of herpetologists has an entirely different “take” on these creatures and hopes their six-week study will change public perception of what they feel is the world’s most misunderstood snake.
NOVA Rat Attack 8 pm
Every 48 years, the inhabitants of the remote Indian state of Mizoram suffer a horrendous ordeal known locally as mautam. An indigenous species of bamboo, blanketing 30 percent of Mizoram’s 8,100 square miles, blooms once every half-century, spurring an explosion in the rat population which feeds off the bamboo’s fruit. The rats run amok, destroying crops and precipitating a crippling famine throughout Mizoram. NOVA follows this gripping tale of nature’s capacity to engender human suffering, and investigates the botanical mystery that happens with clockwork precision every half century.
Killer Stress: A National Geographic Special 9 pm
Stress. It’s always been there to save our lives. It’s what made us run from predators and enabled us to take down prey. But today, humans are turning on that same stress response to deal with 30-year mortgages, difficult bosses, teenagers and traffic jams. Some of us are wallowing in corrosive hormones; for the first time, scientists can reveal just how measurable and dangerous that exposure can be. MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient and Stanford University neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky and National Geographic search for answers to why stress seems to be killing us.