|What Peter Parker should have said...|
Smithsonian: A bite from the banana spider of Central and South American rain forests causes shortness of breath, excessive salivation, tremors and—for men—a persistent, intensely painful erection, known as priapism in the medical community.
So potent is this spider’s ability to command an erection that researchers wondered if it couldn’t be somehow transformed and used for good. According to WebMD, erectile dysfunction and common treatments like Viagra, Levitra and Cialis fall short of providing results for one in three men with ED.
Scientists write in the Journal of Sexual Medicine that one of the banana spider’s toxins, PnTx2-6, triggered the release of nitric oxide, which increased circulation in the rats’ genitals … If rats and human men are anything alike, the researchers suspect treatments eventually derived from the toxin might help patients who fail to respond to drugs like Viagra, which relies on a different mechanism.
Banana spiders are not the only organisms found in nature with a particular penchant for bringing on unwanted erections. Rabies, too, sometimes has this effect. In 1988, doctors described the case of one such affliction in the Postgraduate Journal of Medicine.