A lot of people will tell you we shouldn’t care that much if many of the species of the planet go extinct as appears to be occurring right before our eyes. Well, for those of you who don’t give a damn about the spotted owl, much less all those unknown plants and insects and creepy crawlies you’d just as soon see eradicated because they’re just weeds and pests and nasty stuff you can live without, here’s a story just for you:

It may be one of nature’s repulsive little blood-sucking parasites, but the humble tick could yield a future cure for cancers of the skin, liver and pancreas, Brazilian researchers have discovered.

They have identified a protein in the saliva of a common South American tick, Amblyomma cajennense, that apparently reduces and can even eradicate cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells alone.

“This is a radical innovation,” said Ana Marisa Chudzinski-Tavassi, the molecular biologist at the Instituto Butantan in Sao Paulo who is leading the research.

“The component of the saliva of this tick… could be the cure for cancer,” she told AFP.

Luckily we discovered this little miracle before the tick’s habitat was destroyed and it along with it, but who knows how many other “miracle cures” for human diseases have already been lost for all time because one species or another has bit the dust thanks to us? Something to consider the next time someone tells you that environmentalists are all just paranoid, anti-free market, human hating fascist whackos.