While Hollywood movies portray sharks lead in the most bloody movies, ravaging apes as our greatest threats, and spiders arguably have the most phobias, the most lethal critters are frequently far smaller – and more likely to shoot through disease instead of razor-sharp fangs. Indeed, numerous terrible beasts, both huge and small, are quite dangerous. Here are the world’s eleven least to most hazardous animals — and where to find them—from actively contributing to significant loss of human life to packing enough venom to put hapless travelers out of operation.
Here are the top eleven most dangerous animals on the planet Earth.
- Golden Poison Dart Frog
Poison darts are a huge, diversified collection of vividly colored frogs, with only a few species posing a serious threat to humans. The golden poison dart, which grows to about two inches long and lives in a restricted region of rain forests along Colombia’s Pacific coast, is the most lethal (roughly the size of a paper clip). Its poison, batrachotoxin, is so strong that one frog can kill 10 mature men, with only two micrograms—roughly the amount that would fit on the tip of a pin—necessary to kill a single person. But the amphibian’s poison glands are located beneath its skin, so even a light touch might cause difficulty. It’s no surprise that the indigenous Emberá people have been lacing the points of their blow darts with the frog’s venom for millennia. Unfortunately, deforestation has put the frog on various endangered species lists, so even if you see one while trekking, don’t reach for it.
- Box Jellyfish
These transparent, nearly invisible invertebrates are often found floating (or slowly drifting at speeds close to five miles per hour) in Indo-Pacific waters, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration consider them to be the world’s most venomous marine animal. Their namesake cubic frames have up to 15 tentacles at the corners, each growing up to 10 feet long and lined with thousands of stinging cells called nematocysts that contain toxins that strike the heart, nervous system, and skin cells all at the same time. While anti-venoms are available, the venom is so deadly and overwhelming that many human victims have been found to go into shock and drown or succumb to heart failure before reaching the shore among the hundreds of claimed fatal encounters each year. Even if you’re lucky enough yet to drive to the hospital and get the antidote, patients can be in excruciating pain for weeks later, and the creature’s tentacles can leave terrible scars.
- Indian Saw-Scaled Viper
While many snake species have enough venom to readily kill a human, not many of them adopt the comprehensive approach that the Indian saw-scaled viper does, which is why it is one of the most common causes of snakebite. These reptiles, sometimes known as the small Indian viper or simply the saw-scaled viper, reside in some of the most densely inhabited areas of their territory, which extends well beyond India. They hide in plain sight by blending with the arid environment with their natural camouflage. Because they are most active at night, listen for their protective sizzling sound, which is caused by a behavior called stridulation, in which the snake coils and rubs its scales together. Though with caution, saw-scaled vipers are exceedingly aggressive, with each bite delivering more than double the deadly amount. Fortunately, anti-venom is available.
Blowfish, sometimes known as Pufferfish, can be found in tropical oceans all over the world. Though they are the world’s second most poisonous vertebrate, they are arguably more dangerous because their neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin is found in the fish’s skin, muscle tissue, liver, kidneys, and gonads, all of which must be avoided when the creature is prepared for human consumption. While wild encounters are undoubtedly dangerous, the risk of death from a Pufferfish increases when consumed in countries such as Japan, where it is regarded as a delicacy known as fugu and can only be prepared by trained, licensed chefs—even then, accidental deaths from ingestion occur several times each year. Tetrodotoxin is up to 1,200 times more deadly than cyanide, and it can cause paralysis of the tongue and lips, disorientation, vomiting, tachycardia, difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and death if not treated.
- Black Mamba
Though poisonous animals such as the boomslang and king cobra are lethal, the black mamba is particularly deadly because of its speed. The snake (which can grow to be 14 feet long) is the fastest of all snakes, slithering at speeds of up to 12.5 miles per hour, making an escape in remote locations even more difficult. Thankfully, black mambas only attack when they’re threatened—but when they do, they’ll bite multiple times, releasing enough venom, a mix of neuro- and cardiotoxins to kill ten people in a single bite. And if the appropriate anti-venom is not administered within 20 minutes, the bites are nearly always lethal.
- Sydney Funnel-Web Spider
Some spiders display their lethality with colorful colors or alien-like appendages, but few are as capable as the glossy black Sydney Funnel-Web Spider in delivering on that promise. Because the atraxotoxin in their venom causes the human nervous system to brief out, a funnel-web bite can result in death in as little as 30 minutes in humans. Remarkably, non-primate mammals, including household pets, are unaffected by funnel-web venom. What makes funnel-webs particularly dangerous is their proximity to humans, as well as the natural behavior that drives them to seek shelter and build webs in sheltered burrows—like shoes and lawn ornaments. The teeth of funnel webs may pierce a human fingernail or even a shoe, which they will do repeatedly when threatened. The bite of a funnel-web spider is so terrifying that experts advise obtaining anti-venom after tangoing with any black spider in the funnel-web family.
The first most poisonous fish known to humans is easy to overlook—exactly what it intends. From all, stonefish are named after their visual resemblance to rocks, resting perfectly still and blending neatly into the bottom where an unsuspecting foot might easily stomp down on their dorsal fins, prepared and ready with strong neurotoxins. The unluckiest clodhoppers will step firmly, increasing the amount of venom injected; they may also activate the stonefish’s secondary defense mechanism known as a lachrymal saber, which has been compared to a switchblade of the face. Stonefish venom can be fatal within an hour, therefore it’s best to get anti-venom right once and denature the venom with water heated to over 113 °F (45 °C) in the meanwhile. Above all, be careful where you tread.
- Saltwater Crocodile
The terrifying crocodile, which is more irritable, easily agitated, and violent toward anything that crosses its way, has nothing on Florida’s alligators. The saltwater crocodile is the world’s largest—and deadliest—species. Crocodiles, which may grow to be 23 feet long and weigh more than a ton, are known to kill hundreds of people each year, with crocodiles killing more people than sharks. Saltwater crocodiles are particularly hazardous because they can swim well in both salt and freshwater (yeah, their name is confusing), and can strike rapidly with a bite that delivers 3,700 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure, which rivals that of the T. Rex.
- Tsetse Fly
The tsetse fly, often regarded as the world’s most hazardous fly, is often found in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in countries in the continent’s center. It is a minute speck of bug that measures between 8 and 17 mm, or approximately the same size as the ordinary housefly. While the flies themselves are vicious bloodsucking creatures that often feed during peak warm hours, their greatest dread is the protozoan parasites known as Trypanosomes that they disseminate. These microscopic viruses are the cause of African sleeping sickness, a condition characterized by neurological and meningoencephalitis symptoms such as behavioral abnormalities, poor coordination, and the disruptions in sleeping cycles that give the sickness its name. The illness can be lethal if left untreated. While there are no vaccines or treatments available to prevent illness, precautions include wearing neutral-colored clothing (the tsetse fly is drawn to bright and dark colors, particularly blue), avoiding bushes during the day, and using permethrin-treated gear in more remote places.
The common mosquito, which is even smaller than the tsetse fly and is only three millimeters at its smallest, is the second most hazardous. Our argument is based on the staggering number of deaths caused each year by various illnesses carried by certain mosquito species (out of over 3,000 worldwide). Malaria, Chikungunya, encephalitis, elephantiasis, yellow fever, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and the Zika virus are all spread by irritating insects, primarily those from the genera Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex. Malaria, Chikungunya, encephalitis, elephantiasis, yellow fever, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and the Zika virus affect an estimated 700 million people each year, killing more than half of the world’s population is currently at danger of mosquito-borne diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Given that pests are drawn to our body temperatures and the CO2 we exhale, using insect repellents with active components like DEET and picaridin is one of the best ways to avoid illness.
Baffled? Admittedly, we’re animals, and given that we’ve been assassinating each other for 10,000 years, with total war-related deaths estimated to be approximately 150 million and 1 billion (and that was a decade ago), it’s no surprise that we’re at the top of the list. Despite the fact that we are said to be having to live in the most peaceful time in human history, we continue to assault each other with enormously high rates of utter depravity, ranging from gun violence to terrorist attacks all over the world. Global warming, the destruction of forests and coral reefs, and over-tourism are all instances of how we endanger other animals. Given the danger we pose to so many other creatures, as well as the fact that we frequently act irrationally and have the capability to annihilate our entire planet with a variety of terrifying weapons such as nuclear weapons and genetically modified superbugs, we are unquestionably the most dangerous animal on the planet.
Although the idea of being fatally attacked by an animal is dreadful, knowing which animals are most likely to kill you is an advantage for wanderers. These animals come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Who thought a tiny rock could wipe out an entire crowd of humans?
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