Lo Phoneutria Nigriventer, altrimenti conosciuto come “ragno delle banane”, è un aracnide di grandi dimensioni: può raggiungere infatti facilmente i 15 cm di lunghezza, zampe comprese.

È una specie che vive nelle regioni tropicali, principalmente in Brasile, dove sembra prediligere come habitat le coltivazioni e piantagioni di banane, il che lo porta a entrare molto spesso in contatto con l’uomo e gli agricoltori. Si annida nei caschi, dove fa il nido e depone le uova. Non di rado, riesce a raggiungere altre parti del continente americano e il resto del mondo tramite il trasporto delle banane, se non vengono attentamente controllate e disinfestate prima di cominciare la trafila per venir immesse sul mercato.

Il ragno che ti trasforma in Priapo e non in SpidermanÈ estremamente aggressivo verso le altre specie, anche più grandi di lui: prima di cominciare un attacco, segnala la sua disponibilità al combattimento alzandosi sulle quattro zampe posteriori mantenendo il resto del corpo sollevato da terra, con i cheliceri che si arrossano e bene in vista, muovendosi di lato. Ma cosa rende speciale questo ragno?

È uno dei più letali al mondo. Il suo veleno consiste in un mix di neurotossine e calcio-antagonisti aventi una azione sui canali voltaggio-dipendenti e stimolanti del sistema nervoso autonomo, causando una perdita del tono muscolare e morte per arresto cardiaco o asfissia. Una delle tossine rilasciate dal ragno, ha come effetto sul corpo il rilascio da parte della parete del vaso sanguigno di ossido di azoto, uno dei principali vasodilatatori del corpo umano. Questo ossido è estremamente importante, in quanto è il principale responsabile chimico dell’erezione nell’uomo e, grazie alle altre tossine presenti nel veleno, stimolano il corpo a far perdurare lo stato per molto tempo, oltre 4 ore o fino alla morte dell’avvelenato. Inoltre, i sopravvissuti raccontano che, dopo il morso, la loro vita sessuale sia migliorata, e la loro virilità sembri aumentata.

Attualmente il veleno del ragno delle banane è sotto l’occhio dei ricercatori, in quanto ha una azione protettiva sulle ischemie cerebrali e lo rende un candidato si come nuovo farmaco neurologico che come fonte di  cura contro l’impotenza per migliorare gli attuali stimolanti disponibili.

Fortunatamente un terzo dei suoi morsi è “secco” (ndr senza l’inoculazione del veleno) riducendo, seppur di poco, i rischi di un avvelenamento. I soggetti più a rischio sono i bambini e gli anziani, e se ne sconsiglia vivamente un uso afrodisiaco di questa specie, anche se un siero è disponibile.

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