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On the world of Ruquelis, the combination of reincarnation and the drug Hialutabu allows the inhabitants to do some truly awful things to each-other and justify it to themselves as good.

Hialutabu is usually administered as a C1 epidural injection, and it quickly affects the brain so that painful stimuli are perceived as being pleasurable. It can be injected intravenously or intramuscularly and it will have the same effect, only it takes longer and larger doses are required. A dose of hialutabu administered to a human lasts from 6 to 12 hours as an epidural, or up to 24 hours if administered intramuscularly, though in the latter case, it takes effect more slowly. Its only long-term side-effects are that it is addictive to experience pain as pleasure.

Hialutabu is colourless and tasteless, but it is inactivated by stomach acids, so it cannot be administered orally. It is not an oral toxin, nor is it toxic in any other way.

After being dosed with Hialutabu, the recipient is then typically tortured to death, and experiences this as the most wonderful thing they've ever experienced. Hialutabu can also be administered to soldiers ordered to suicide missions, self-administered by spies facing capture and interrogation, or even as a drug of addiction.

However, I did a typical worldbuilding thing and invented Hialutabu without considering where it came from. I am not asking WB SE to decide where it came from... that's my job.

I'm saying that Hialutabu has a biological origin. However, I'm trying to think of what evolutionary advantage that a compound like hialutabu would give an organism. Anaesthetics have the advantage that in sufficient concentration they're lethal, but what advantage is there in making your victim experience pain as pleasure?

So, my question is: What evolutionary advantage would be conferred to an unspecified creature (either plant or animal, terrestrial, airborne or aquatic) by having a substance in that creature's venom that would make a mammal (including but not limited to humans) experience pain as pleasure?

Edit:

I can think of one very good evolutionary advantage: Producing this compound makes the f-d up humans who use the stuff want to farm the creature that produces it. I'm looking for an evolutionary advantage that doesn't involve being farmed.

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    $\begingroup$ Why do colds make you feel terrible? Wouldn't it be better if there was a bacterium that used you to multiply itself also made you feel high? Your immune system would still kill it off, but maybe others would want to catch it before it went. $\endgroup$ Commented May 3 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ Re the edit. Again it's NOT evolutionary valid because it implies tens of thousands of years of co-evolution. The closest analogue to what you are describing is a family of insect infecting fungi called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis sensu lato that change the behavior of their hosts (insects) AKA the TV show 'The Last of Us.' There is ZERO evolutionary reason for any organism to evolve a drug for the purpose you want. So if it exists? By default it HAS to be purely a matter of chance that it does what you want. Then more random chance that it gets discovered & used by humans for that purpose. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Commented May 3 at 10:31
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    $\begingroup$ This is two questions: what chemical compound makes mammals experience pain as pleasure? None, really. Opium? And: Why would a plant or animal produce said compound. - You have to design the drug first. E.g., codeine is a secondary metabolite ("substances manufactured by plants that make them competitive in their own environment") of the poppy plant; tastes bitter and is easily toxic. Of the known substances, opium's been the best one for thousands of years. If you want something better we have to start cracking chemicals into things that do not exist in nature. $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Commented May 5 at 2:25
  • $\begingroup$ #3 is weaponizing it as a venom. $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Commented May 5 at 2:31
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    $\begingroup$ It doesn't need to have an evolutionary advantage, it actually has a diffrent rvolutionary fuction and the effect you want is just a random side effect. morphine did not evolve to shut down mammals pain receptors afterall. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 5 at 23:56

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That it behaves in that way when injected to the people of that planet is an unexpected consequence. The only advantage for the plant producing it is that it is lethal to the animal trying to consume it.

That's pretty much the scenario with almost all the spices and herbs that we human use: caffeine and capsaicine are just two of the most eclatant examples of such weird interaction.

enter image description here

This is what is happening also in your case.

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    $\begingroup$ "Hialutabu is colourless and tasteless, but it is inactivated by stomach acids, so it cannot be administered orally." This means that it does not have that effect. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented May 3 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild if you're a ruminant, say, you have several stomachs which don't produce acid. $\endgroup$
    – Cong Chen
    Commented May 3 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild, you don't need to eat poison ivy to activate its defense mechanism $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented May 3 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild Stinging nettles are venomous. Yes, venomous, not poisonous - the stings pierce the skin and inject their toxins intramuscularly $\endgroup$
    – No Name
    Commented May 3 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild: Capsaicin, as I understand, is labelled as a neurotoxin that is activated around the taste buds. It was (As I understand), originally peppers seemed to prefer the advantage that birds can spread their seeds much farther, and without destroying the seeds while consuming them. It also deters most mammalian predators by being really spicy - it just didn't account for humans for whom the pain of spiciness is a feature, not a deterrent. $\endgroup$ Commented May 5 at 4:23
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In the real world, there are some wasps (Cotesia glomerata) that lay their eggs inside the caterpillars of some specific butterfly species (those of genus Pieris).

The caterpillars initially want nothing to do with the wasps. When a wasp comes close, the caterpillars will try to kill them. But once a wasp manages to land a sting, it injects a virus along with the eggs. Yes, a virus, that all glomeratas carry. And that virus completely messes up with the caterpillar's immune system and brains.

An impregnated caterpillar will not undergo metamorphosis. Rather, after the wasp larvae eat their way out of their host, the caterpillar will spin a coccoon around them so that the wasp larvae themselves are protected from predators while they undergo metamorphosis. This is a sort of "parental" behaviour that the Pieris adult butterfly doesn't have, as females will usually lay sticky eggs atop a leaf and fly away without ever covering the eggs.

This virus acts like a venom, causing the caterpillar to want to protect the very things that have eaten its innards. The caterpillar even guards the coccoon for about ten days. It's almost as it if felt a sense of duty and a job well done on its final moments.


We cannot know what the caterpillar is really feeling, but we can imagine a similar interation between vertebrate species. Imagine, for example, a protozoan capable of infecting all warm-blooded animals. It prefers cats, though, and so is more abundant in them. This protozoan has an effect on rodents, such that they not only completely lose their fear of cats, they get chill around felines and will seek out contact with cats.

The mutual benefit here is that cats act as hosts for the protozoan, and in return the protozoan keeps cats fed. Cats spread this "venom" through their sh... I mean, feces. As for rats they just get the shaft in all of this.

Now imagine that humans, after being exposed to this microbe, also become catholic (like alcoholic, but addicted to cats instead). Half of humanity is exposed to this venom, and then the affected humans bring cats into their homes and spend billions of dollars globally every year on toys, food and healthcare for parasite vertebrates that don't care if their "owners" (or worse, "tutors") live or die. Humans will do anything for the cats, and in return all they get is being bitten, slashed at, marked as property and humilliated when the cat wakes you up by rubbing its anus against your lips and nose while you sleep.

Wouldn't it be crazy if such a protoxoan existed in real life?

If that were the case, you could isolate whatever compounds this microbe makes and make a very highly concentrated injection out of that. Now all you need for someone to feel ecstasy as they are maimed is to show them pictures or videos of kittens as you maim them - or to add insult to injury, do the ceremony while donning a furry suit.

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    $\begingroup$ I get the feeling you're a dog person... $\endgroup$
    – No Name
    Commented May 3 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ Check out Upstream Color, an indie film on the same theme. Made by the writer of Primer, the novel indie time-travel movie. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Commented May 9 at 23:35
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It was created by a carnivorous plant, it shoots needles into the prey animal, but they don't notice because the drug overrides the pain signals. They then get so disorientated that they simply stop moving and end up dying next to the plant as it sucks nutrients from them,.

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    $\begingroup$ How do you account for the delay between administration and effect? Until the hialutabu takes effect, the animal is going to feel pain perfectly normally and unpleasantly. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented May 3 at 2:12
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild Perhaps seeds are injected along with the needles — and lots of needles, too. That way, it doesn't matter how long it takes for the hialutabu to take effect; inevitably the animal will have a seed in it when it collapses and that seed will then use its body as a nutrient supply in the manner of the eggs of a parasitic wasp laid within a cockroach. Think SCP-822. $\endgroup$
    – KEY_ABRADE
    Commented May 3 at 2:50
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    $\begingroup$ You say it takes effect quickly. These plants have large enough root systems that the pray animal doesn't need to die right next to the stem in order to be consumed. $\endgroup$ Commented May 3 at 2:50
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The venom is farmed from predators

There are many Earth animals that that have evolved venom to incapacitate their prey, rendering it immobile for later consumption. On Earth these are generally neurotoxins that physically paralyse the prey, but your 'pain is pleasure' toxin could ostensibly have the same function.

Consider an ambush predator like a snake or sea creature, with a venom that causes any bitten prey to enjoy the sensation of being bitten so much that they immediately* cease struggling and allow the predator to continue gnawing away. These predators could be farmed by humans, just like Earth humans do with snake venom.

*This would need to be near-immediate in the prey animal, but the delay before taking effect in humans can easily be explained by differences in biology. Humans inject the venom, whereas the prey animals would likely be small mammals, or sea creatures with simpler circulatory systems.

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    $\begingroup$ As per the question: "I'm looking for an evolutionary advantage that doesn't involve being farmed." $\endgroup$ Commented May 3 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Escapeddentalpatient. The explanation above does not involve being farmed, except the word "farmed" is used. $\endgroup$
    – Yakk
    Commented May 3 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ Twice ...... @Yakk But if it's a "capture and release" program - it's not clear how it's an advantage to the predator. It seems to deprive them of their single advantage, at least for a while. $\endgroup$ Commented May 3 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ The evolutionary advantage is that the predator can easily incapacitate prey for consumption. The fact that humans might come along (probably) millions of years later and exploit the venom for their own benefit is irrelevant to its usefulness as a trait. $\endgroup$
    – K. Morgan
    Commented May 4 at 13:29
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Frame challenge. Technically Venom only two evolutionary functions. One, to kill or incapacitate prey. Two self defense. Also importantly plants do not have venom's. They have compounds that are either toxic to other creatures that eat them or otherwise perform some other essential function in the bio-chemistry of the plant concerned.

So in short no animal is going to evoke a toxin intended to make pain pleasurable in another species because it would not be beneficial for that species to do so and would cost it resources that could be used elsewhere. There literally is no evolutionary advantage to doing this.

Instead just go with pure random chance as is the case with the all drugs, poisons and other useful chemicals that can be and are extracted from plants and animals in the real world today (or at least were until the drug industry learns how to manufacture them synthetically) . There are plenty of species from which humans extract useful/dangerous pharmacological products, mainly plants and fungi but also members of the animal kingdom.

Think cocaine or heroin for example, the plants from which those drugs are derived did NOT evolve them in order to give 'pleasure' to another species (us). They evolved because they performed some essential function inside the plants concerned. All drugs and medicines serve or served some beneficial function in the species they are derived from, at least initially. Its just that by pure chance some of these substances, if consumed or injected have unintended effects on humans, some positive, some negative.

So don't worry. The poor people who discovered Hialutabu just stumbled upon an unintended side effect of a compound that did something else important for the survival of the species they found it in (e.g. it's toxic to their main predator). And you can pick just about any sort of creature you want. A plant might be simplest though.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that this compound could happen 'just because'. However, I disagree that it could have no evolutionary advantage. Just because I called it a 'venom' doesn't mean that it has to have evolved to kill or incapacitate. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented May 3 at 2:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Monty Wild. I think you missed my point. Plants and animals don't produce compounds in their bodies that they don't either need themselves for survival or alternatively whihc are the bi product or waste product of a chemical process which DOES give rise to a compound they need. This is because a living things metabolism costs energy to operate & calories burnt producing something a living thing doesn't need are calories wasted i.e. they could have been used to produce something else it does need. There is very strong evolutionary drive to reduce waste like that. So its a coincidence. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Commented May 3 at 5:35
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    $\begingroup$ Again, I agree that there is no advantage to producing a useless substance. However, I disagree that hialutabu can have no use to the organism that produces it. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented May 3 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ There certainly seem to be venomous plants - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendrocnide_moroides - toxin filled trichromes designed to embed and release into animal's skin to irritate them is probably close enough to count. $\endgroup$
    – abestrange
    Commented May 3 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ @abestrange Yes but the point is the plant developed that TOXIN (& the spines it's contained in) as a defense mechanism to deter predators. The toxins presence has proved to provide it with a competitive and therefore evolutionary advantage. It pays a price for doing having this of course (resources diverted to this defense instead of to other useful purposes) but to the plant that price has proved worth it - so far. What you don't see in nature are species evolving compounds that are 'nice' for some other species unless they get something from the exchange in return e.g. think bees & nectar. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Commented May 4 at 1:25
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Does hialutabu shut down hunger?

If so, a plant could produce it to cut down on grazing. A cow (or whatever) eats a little of the plant then stops because it isn't hungry any more.

Starving people might eat the leaves so they no longer feel hungry (and perhaps get a mild pleasant feeling instead).

Is is only when this substance is distilled and concentrated that we get the pain/pleasure effect.

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  • $\begingroup$ No, Hialutabu does not reduce hunger. All it does is make painful stimuli seem pleasurable. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented May 4 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ I was thinking specifically of shutting down hunger by making the discomfort of hunger and the pain of hunger pangs pleasurable. $\endgroup$
    – DMacks
    Commented May 5 at 17:38
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The Tatzelwurm

A german folklore half dragon (one without wings) who is also often known for an extraordinarily disgusting stench.

The stench comes from it's digestive system which is very powerful in that it can dissolve and digest anything that moves. But the powerful digestion comes at the cost of producing chemicals which stink so much that they even induce pain in the 'smellers' nose .

With the smell keeping prey away the tatzelwurm almost went extinct if it wasn't for a very perculiar mutation which caused the stench to also contain a neurotoxin which makes the pain induce by the stench pleasurable. The prey still notices the stench but is also slightly aroused by it. It gets the feeling of "that's disusting... but I also kinda like it", luring it into the open yaws of the tatzelwurm.

While inhaled the toxin is not really potent and only has some subconcious, mainly effecting the sense of smell/ the nose. All other pain is still felt as normal. A ancient tribe gathered and used the toxin to make their extreme nose piercings easier.

Injecting it however brings the toxin into the central nervous system and effects all pain. Refining brought it to the levels known today.

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There are plenty of examples in real life of animals that have evolved chemical mechanisms that cause their prey to actively seek them out, leaving their prey open to being preyed upon.

I recently saw a video about the world's only carnivorous caterpillar, which has the ability to release a drop of "honeydew" (an aromatic sugar solution) from a gland on its back that is meant to attract a nearby ant. When the ant comes to collect the honeydew, the caterpillar then does two things: it starts making a sound that mimics an ant queen in distress; and it releases pheromones that mimic the pheromones released by a queen ant.

So what does the ant do? It picks up the young caterpillar, takes it back to the colony, and deposits it in the egg chamber. Since it still smells like an ant queen, the caterpillar is left alone by the other ants in the colony. And, like I said, this little crawler is carnivorous -- it spends its time in the colony eating all the ant larvae it can get its mouth on, growing up to 20 times larger in the process. Eventually, it builds a cocoon, pupates, and then crawls out of the colony as the magnificent Blue Butterfly.

Amazing story, right? Now, imagine a creature (let's say some kind of bug like a scorpion) evolves to produce a venom that makes its target feel pleasure from pain for the next few hours. Let's say it also makes an "interesting" noise, and produces a smell that is similar to what its prey likes to eat (flowers, fruits, grilled meats, feces, whatever). So now we have a bug that is too small to kill its prey (lots of bugs are like that, e.g. mosquitoes and horseflies), but has evolved to make its prey come to it, and enjoy being chewed on. This is actually a win-win situation: the bug gets its meal, the prey doesn't die and doesn't resist or retaliate. And the best part for the bug is that, once it has stung and fed upon a particular individual, that particular animal is more likely to seek out the bug next time it hears its interesting sound.

Is this plausible? Absolutely -- weirder things already exist in nature. Is there a clear evolutionary advantage (and a clear evolutionary path) for this? Absolutely -- nothing described here is even a "brand new thing", because all of the bug's adaptations are based on previous existing biology.

(Okay, now for your nightmare: imagine if mosquitoes' evolved something like this in their saliva. Mosquito saliva already includes blood thinners and a numbing agent (it's only our allergy reaction to the presence of the saliva in our skin that makes us itchy afterwards). Imagine if some random mutation made their saliva trigger pleasure responses in our skins' nerve cells. Imagine people actively walking into rooms filled with mosquitoes so that they can "bliss out" as the mosquitoes sucked their blood. Yeah. Nightmare.)

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A common behaviour among mammals is rubbing and scratching themselves on fixed objects. There's even evidence that having big scratchy brushes for cattle can improve their productivity. Here's a wombat having a good scratch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DpNVYr2I2k .

One area of diverse evolution for plants is how to distribute their pollen and seeds. Some plants produce burrs, seeds which attach to the fur of mammals and are carried away from the parent plant. Similarly, many systems of pollen distribution involve dropping pollen onto an animal (usually an insect or bird) which will carry it to the next flower.

Combining these two adaptations, imagine a shrub or small tree which distributes its seeds by dropping them on the mammals that use it as a rubbing post. Now suppose this shrub or small tree has to compete with other plants to be the preferred rubbing post. It could evolve bumps on its trunk to make it a more effective scratcher. And it could further evolve a sap or resin which sat on the bumps and made scratching feel good.

But reflect on your own experience of the pleasure of scratching - it's very similar to pain. It's very easy for it to slip over from pleasure into pain. Sometimes we (especially as children) scratch in a way that is harmful, because it feels good. So there's a weird evolutionary dead end where the animals keep scratching because it feels good and the plant keeps producing more and more of this toxin that makes pain feel like pleasure. Maybe the animals keep evolving tougher hides and so the toxin gets more and more powerful. Or the mammal just becomes resistant to the toxin and so it gets more powerful. Finally, you end up with a wildly potent pleasure-pain toxin. If the plant grows around animals which aren't adapted to it, e.g. in a farmer's field, the cattle will rub themselves on it until they are bleeding and raw.

Or as another avenue, maybe the plant wants to only spread the seeds on one mammal (not the semi-aquatic animal that also likes to scratch, but the grazing animal, or vice versa) and so evolves its toxin to be specific to one species.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome Robertiton. Nice answer. Please take our tour and refer to the help center as and when for guidance. Enjoy the site. $\endgroup$ Commented May 5 at 1:52
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Hialutabu is a hormone released during pregnancy

The pain of childbirth is now extremely pleasurable, encouraging the mammal to have more and more offspring. More offspring means higher chance that the species survives and a higher chance the Hialutabu-producing trait is passed on. Those that inherit said trait continue to prolifically reproduce.

Some ideas:

  • The mating process itself might not be pleasurable, so the reproductive drive comes from hormones produced during the child-bearing process instead.
  • A brief gestation period, as seen in rodents, accelerates the feedback loop between pleasure and offspring.
  • Real world examples: oxytocin, prolactin

Problem(s):

Main problem I can think of is trying to make the mechanics of an injected hormone work, since most injected hormones do not cross the blood-brain barrier. Perhaps a different hormone stimulates the production of Hialutabu instead of Hialutabu itself being the hormone that is released, like prolactin and breast milk. This leads to another problem of how the mammal itself benefits from producing Hialutabu, since oral ingestion does nothing per the constraints of the question.

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It's a toxin but not for humans

Lets look at at a real world example

enter image description here

Psilocybin[a] is a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug compound produced by more than 200 species of fungi. The most potent are members of genus Psilocybe, such as P. azurescens, P. semilanceata, and P. cyanescens, but psilocybin has also been isolated from about a dozen other genera. Psilocybin is itself biologically inactive but is quickly converted by the body to psilocin, which has mind-altering effects similar, in some aspects, to those of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline, and dimethyltryptamine (DMT). In general, the effects include euphoria, visual and mental hallucinations, changes in perception, distorted sense of time, and perceived spiritual experiences. It can also cause adverse reactions such as nausea and panic attacks.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psilocybin

Psilocybin has been hypothesized to mediate interactions between fungi and other organisms (Reynolds et al., 2018). It is possible that, like many other fungal specialized metabolites, psilocybin evolved as a defense against antagonistic organisms such as fungivores and resource competitors (Spiteller, 2008). However, given its neuroactive properties, psilocybin may increase spore dispersal distance by altering the behavior of animals visiting the mushroom and expanding their travel radius. Alternatively, psilocybin has been proposed as a store or disposal product of excess nitrogen that might otherwise be toxic to the fungus itself (Schröder et al., 1999). However, its preferential production in mushrooms, which are not readily mined by the mycelium for later use, argues against this nitrogen storage hypothesis.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1087184523000439

enter image description here

What we have is a species that evolved a toxin to protect itself from a predator but said chemical has a completely different effect on other species.

The evolutionary advantage is protection from a predator. The mind altering side effects on other species is just random chance.

Nature is full of examples. Willow bark contains salicin which is used to produce aspirin. Peyote and other cactus contain mescaline. Opium poppies have morphine. Tobacco has nicotine.

A chemical to protect one species against another species may have a completely different effect on a third species and no effect on a fourth species.

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Evolution, the process has a few winning strategies. All of course- begin with "as cheap as possible" and then end with:

  • go to big to become a snack (elephant, whale, dinosaurs)

  • become to many for all to become a snack (hering)

  • become to smart to be a snack (environmental nailbiter, but us)

There are a ton of species that give up survival signals aka pain to help there young survive. And it is thus helpful in the longrun for survival. But the individual is usually not better off for it.

Now the evolutionary advantage for pain being pleasurable - would be that the compound makes the user poisonous to eat for other animals. So there is that guy in the tribe, who is high on it and who embraces the wulfes, lions, tigers and bears of the world, running towards them. Every little bit helps to carry that message.Now this can not be many.. and the others in the tribe, must take care of them, preventing - masturbation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesch%E2%80%93Nyhan_syndrome

I leave you with that.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Hialutabu is colourless and tasteless, but it is inactivated by stomach acids, so it cannot be administered orally." This means that it is not toxic when ingested. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented May 3 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ Well, to humans, loats of stuff that is non-toxic to us can be toxic to wildflife. Otherwise.. its just the nyhan syndrom in pillform. $\endgroup$
    – Pica
    Commented May 3 at 14:02
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Well to understand if any evolutionary advantage did so exist for such a venom that would make pain pleasurable we must need to understand what pain basically is. Pain is basically a response of the body of an organism to any external or internal harm or maybe as a sign that something is not quite you know good or beneficial for the body as a whole.(this is my interpretation) Wikipedia says so "Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli."

So even though it might seem weird and philosophical but pain is actually required for survival as no pain would mean body parts getting easily damaged to extreme extents and the organism not getting to know of it. So while there can possibly be no such evolutionary advantage for the organism itself it would be possible that such a venom could be used as a defense for making the death of the predator or competiting organism easier and faster as no pain would make them less aware of harms in general.

PS Please don't take it as a professional and certified answer .

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The venom is derived from a blood-drinking, tick-like parasite. In nature, this parasite evolved its toxin so that its bite would not itch, and thus the affected mammal would not remove the tick. Over time, the toxin became more and more potent, because the Pleasure Ticks (might be what Hialu Tabu initially meant) that produced pleasure inducing toxin survived even better than those whos toxin only numbed the pain. Soon, apes and other higher mammals not only no longer picked off their ticks, but sought them out to get them. Some animals quickly got addicted to the ticks, to the point they would just lay down and die in a bliss, covered in ticks. This of course decimated the animal population, which in turn decimated the Pleasure Tick population, resetting the cycle.

Humans were the only animals capable of understanding the danger of the Pleasure Ticks, so we were the only host that actively rejected the ticks, or at least tried to control exposure, but also the only ones to consciously cultivate the ticks in captivity.

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  • $\begingroup$ The thing is, hialutabu makes pain pleasurable, it's not an anaesthetic. Affected people who hurt themselves accidentally might keep hurting themselves. People would probably scratch at the tick bites until they bled... $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented May 6 at 12:09
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Real world Vipers have a similar venom

Vipers lie in good ambush sites and wait for prey to arrive. When another creature approaches, they'll strike, and inject their venom, and then they recoil and re-hide. The venom causes "pain, strong local swelling and necrosis, blood loss from cardiovascular damage complicated by coagulopathy, and disruption of the blood-clotting system... Death is usually caused by collapse in blood pressure." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viperidae#Venom)

The venom has an odor almost undetectable to humans, but the Vipers can smell it, and follow the creature stealthily as the target runs around and gives itself a heart attack. Once the creature is dead, the Viper simply swallows them, and then finds a safe place to digest. This is incredibly energy efficient, as they almost never have to fight or flee. They have even evolved special jaws allowing them to swallow absurdly large prey.

The only difference is that in your case, with a strong dose of a venom that causes pleasure instead of pain, the Viper will simply wait for the prey to kill itself rather than die of low blood pressure.

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There are many possible avenues you can take to get where you need:

  • The primary purpose of a venom is to incapacitate prey, however it can achieve that. Many venoms are cytotoxic, killing tissue at the cellular level, literally digesting the prey before it's eaten. Others are commonly neurotoxic, they incapacitate either by blocking neural activity entirely, or by causing an uncontrolled flood of one or more neurotransmitters that immobilizes the prey. Hialutabu, as a venom, falls in the latter category of neurotoxins, but the method of incapacitation is to prevent pain, a very basic "this is wrong, get away" signal to most animal life, and replace it with pleasure, a "this is good, you want this" message. That hijacks the prey animal's own instincts, eliminating the instinctive/conditioned fear of its predator, so it will literally offer itself up as a meal.

  • Hialutabu is a serotonin venom, just of a different kind than the most common examples. Most Hymenoptera (bees/wasps) and many poisonous amphibians have a venom that either is the neurotransmitter serotonin, or that causes an uncontrolled release of this neurotransmitter in nearby nerves. While these real-world examples are undoubtedly painful, consider that MDMA, aka Ecstasy, also does what it does via a massive serotonin release, only this release is primarily in the brain instead of the motor neurons. All you need is to handwave a quirk of evolution that produces a serotonin-like venom that triggers a massive serotonin release, but only after the venom has crossed the blood-brain barrier. The target will be incapacitated, not with blinding pain, but overwhelming euphoria, even as they're eaten alive by the predator.

  • Hialutabu is just one chemical in a cocktail making up the venom. Most animal life are a witches' brew of organic compounds; venoms are no different. Hialutabu, then, can be one of several active components in a venom designed to produce a total neural overload in the prey, and the only trick is isolating that specific element of the venom as the drug Hialutabu. Perhaps the chemistry's easy enough that the process has been known since the days of alchemy and folk medicine, and it's been known (at least among the culture central to your story) as a medical anaesthetic for centuries.

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