October 28: Ask anyone who watched the recent Olympic Games, and they will tell you that it was the 28-year-old Japanese sportswoman, Naoko Takahashi, who won the women’s marathon.
But you could say that the race was won by giant killer hornets, whose stomach juices were drunk by the athlete to improve her stamina phenomenally.
A fascinating report by the ‘Telegraph Group’ of England, published in ‘The Hindu’ newspaper recently, stirred up a hornet’s nest in the world of sport with this announcement.
And Takahashi is safe for this juice does not come under the list of banned drugs that are secretly used by sportspersons to boost their performances.
The hornets have incredible energy levels: they fly as far as 60 miles and at a speed of 20 km per hour in search of food for their young ones. It was this quality that made scientists at Japan’s Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, near Tokyo investigate the origin or source of their physical stamina.
And what they discovered was incredible: the source of their energy is an acidic juice produced by the young hornets during the time they eat food. This juice is passed back to the adult hornets in an amazing drill.
And it is those vital drops of acidic juice that make the adult strong enough to conquer distances.
The food of the little hornet or grub comprises insects killed by the adult who chews the meat thoroughly till it becomes a meatball. Then the hornet carries back this meatball of a load that is often half its weight!
The adult returns to the underground nest where the grub waits and feeds it the meatball. Then the adult taps the grub on the head.
This is a signal for the grub to kiss the hornet and pass on some drops of acidic juice. And hey presto! The hornet regains its strength!
What is even more fascinating is that the adult killer hornet, which is as large as three inches, cannot digest solid food. Its digestion system is too weak.
But the two-inch grub that does not even have the shape of the adult hornet, has the capacity to eat solid food and produce the stomach juice that is so vital for the adult’s existence. These hornets kill up to 40 people a year and also have the capacity to demolish entire beehives.
Once the scientists were sure of their facts, they searched for hornets’ nests and removed the grubs. They had taken care to protect themselves fully with protective clothes and hats, says the report.
Then they extracted the acidic juice with the help of pipettes from the grubs that was fed to mice that swam and later, students on exercise bikes.
The results clearly showed that those who had taken the juice performed much better.
Their muscles did not tire soon. The acidic juice was able to convert the fat into energy in a far better manner and that is very important for athletes.
Then it was the turn of a Japanese firm, Meiji, to convert the juice into a bitter tasting drink that Naoko Takahashi started taking during her preparation for the Olympics. The rest, as they say, is history.
And now firms too are queuing up to know the secret of the hornet’s juice. The stomach juice, which is made of amino acids, can also be reproduced in a laboratory, says the report.