Although many creatures on Earth are docile and harmless, there are many who are just the opposite. Both large and small, the earth is home to some very ferocious animals. Here are the most dangerous species on the planet.
The Blue-Ringed Octopus lives in tide pools and coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are considered one of the most venomous marine animals. They are normally rather passive, unless they feel threatened. If handled or provoked, they will sting humans with a neurotoxin that is powerful enough to kill. If stung, artificial respiration on the victim is required, as the venom causes paralysis of the respiratory muscles.
Portuguese Man O’ War
The Portuguese Man O’ War is found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is commonly identified as a jellyfish, however it is a siphonophore (a colonial organism). The stinging venom for the man o’ war leaves humans in severe pain and normally large red welts. The venom can also travel to the lymph nodes and cause symptoms similar to an allergic reaction. Other symptoms can include fever and shock. Not only can these species sting you while alive but detached tentacles can also cause just as painful of a sting.
Great White Shark
The Great White Shark is a predator that can be found all over the Earth, more specifically coastal oceans. Both male and females can grow to a very large animal, however, the females can grow slightly larger than the males. Females can grow up to 20 feet (6.1 m) in length and weigh up to 4,300 pounds (1,950 kg). The Great White is responsible for the largest number of recorded shark bites on human beings. Although Great Whites do not normally seek out humans as food, humans are normally just “test-bitten” by the shark when attacked.
The Cape Buffalo is found in sub-saharan Africa. They are normally relatively calm and they travel in herds. However, if an individual buffalo is injured, they become insane killers. Perfectly nicknamed, the Black Death, Cape Buffalo kill more hunters in Africa than any other animal. They will continue to attack even if you injure them. These behemoths can grow up to 6 feet long and weight nearly a ton.
This scorpion certainly has a fitting name, the Deathstalker. This highly venomous scorpion is found in North Africa and the Middle East. The venom of this guy contains a high level of neurotoxins. One sting to a grown adult, although extremely painful, will most likely not kill. However, a sting to a child, or the elderly, may be lethal. There is an anti-venom, however, sometimes the venom is resistant to the treatment.
Giant Pacific Octopus
One of the largest octopi on earth is the Giant Pacific Octopus. This octopus has 8 arms, all of which are lined with two rows of suckers. The suckers are then lined with hooks to capture its prey. In the center of the arms is a mouth that contains a beak and a toothed-tongue. Although not known to attack humans, this octopus is strong enough to feed on tiny sharks.
The Cone Snail can be found in warm waters near the equator. They are normally seen in shallow depths close to the shore around rock formations and coral reefs. Although tempting, if you see one do not touch it! The snails have harpoon-like teeth which contain a venom called conotoxin. The toxin stops nerve cells from communicating and can cause paralysis almost immediately. There is no antivenin.
Don’t underestimate these guys because of their sizes. They are the true definition of strength in numbers. Also known as driver ants, if they feel attacked or threatened, the whole swarm will come after you. The swarms can contain up to 50 million and all will bite you. Their bites are extremely hard to remove once they attach to their prey. Even after death, their jaws will remain clamped. Although they may not be the most deadly, they are certainly very dangerous.
The Saw-Scaled Viper kills more people than any other snake each year. Although it only grows to 1-3 feet long, its venomous bite can do lots of damage. Their venom contains hemotoxins and cytotoxins, which leads to multiple bleeding disorders including the possibility of an intracranial hemorrhage. Many of these snakes are found in areas where modern medicine is not found. Therefore, victims sometimes suffer a long, painful death.
The African Lion lives in groups called prides and can weigh 265 to 420 pounds. These animals are very territorial. The males will protect the land and the pride, while the females hunt for food. Although rare, there are accounts of lions eating man. Due to its cunning hunting skills, speed and strength, if targeted by an African Lion a person stands little chance of survival.
The Inland Taipan is the most venomous of all the snakes in the world. What also separates these snakes from many others is its prey. The snake is an expert in hunting mammals, therefore, its venom is adapted to kill warm-blooded species. It normally does not strike unless provoked. Its venom contains neurotoxins which affect the nervous system, hemotoxins which affect the blood, and myotoxins which affect the the muscles. If untreated the venom can be lethal.
The Assassin bug is perfectly named as it kills around 12,000 people each year. Although its bite does not directly kill, the disease it carries does. The assassin bug, also known as the kissing bug, carries the Chagas Disease. Chagas Disease is a parasitic infection, and if left untreated can be fatal. However, there is no vaccine for the disease. Prevention is focused on decreasing the bugs contact with humans by using sprays and paints that contain insecticides, as well as improving sanitary conditions.
The flower urchin, or scientifically known as the Toxopneustes pileolus, is commonly found in the Indo-West Pacific. The name was given to the creature because of its numerous and distinctively flower-like appendages, which are normally pinkish or yellowish white. The urchin normally inhabits coral reefs, sea grass beds or rocky environments. Although they may look pretty, do not touch. When touched they deliver a very painful sting causing debilitating pain.
Africanized Honey Bee
The Africanized Honey Bee, also known as the Killer Bee, was created by man, not by nature. The bee is a cross-breeding of the African Honey bee and various European Honey bees. The new breed of bee was taken to Brazil in the 1950s in hopes to increase honey production. However, several swarms escaped, and have since spread throughout the Americas. They are a very defensive species and chase humans long distances. They have killed over 1,000 humans, as well as many other animals such as horses.
Many people see mosquitoes just as tiny annoyances. However, they are actually much more dangerous than most people perceive. The World Health Organization has reported that close to 725,000 people each year are killed by mosquito-born diseases. Hundreds of millions have been affected with malaria, many of which die from the disease. The bug also carries deadly diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis.
The Black Mamba is found in the savannas and rocky areas in southern and eastern Africa. It can grow up to 14 feet long and can slither up to 12.5 mph, making it the fastest snake in all the planet. Although it only attacks when it is provoked, when it does attack beware. The Black Mamba will bite several times, delivering enough toxins to kill 10 people. There is an antivenin but it must be received within 20 minutes.
The Tsetse Fly is found in Sub-Saharan African countries. The flies, like mosquitoes, feed on other animal’s blood. However, it’s not the bite that will harm you, it’s the parasites they spread that are so harmful. The parasite known as Trypanosomes are the direct cause for African Sleeping Sickness. The sickness leads to behavioral changes, poor coordination, trouble sleeping, and if not treated, death. The only way to prevent a bite is to wear neutral colors, avoid bushes during the day, and use permethrin-treated gear.
The Stonefish is one of the most venomous fish. Mainly found on the coasts in the Indo-Pacific oceans, stonefish get their name from its ability to camouflage itself amongst the rocks. Due to its camouflage, swimmers may not see the fish and accidentally step on it. Unfortunately, this normally does not end well for the swimmer. The Stonefish has needle-like dorsal fin spines which secrete neurotoxins when disturbed. There is an anti-venom, and if the sting is minimal, hot water may also destroy the venom.
The Saltwater Crocodile inhabits the Indo-Pacific Ocean waters. This croc can grow up to 23 feet long and weigh more than a ton. Although contradictory to their name, they can swim in both salt and freshwater, and can strike a bite delivering 3,700 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure. That amount of pressure is close to the strength of a T. Rex! Crocodiles are responsible for more human deaths than sharks.
Dogs truly are a man’s best friend. They love you unconditionally no matter what your faults are. However, they can also be very dangerous. Dogs kill roughly 25,000 people each year, the majority of which died from rabies. The prevalence of infection where rabies is well contained, such as North America and Western Europes, is very low. However, there are other countries that have a high rate of stray dogs, like India, where 20,000 people die from rabies each year.
The Tarantula Hawk wasp has the most painful sting of any insect on earth. However, humans do not normally have to worry about these bugs. They hunt the tarantula. However, human stings are possible if the wasp feels provoked. But, no medical attention is necessary. The pain will last for about 5 minutes and then dissipate. Due to their large stingers, most predators avoid these bugs. Therefore, even though they are tiny they are thriving predators.
Although the Hippopotamus is mostly a herbivorous mammal, they can be very dangerous. The Hippo is very aggressive and territorial. Due to its large stature (it is the third-largest land mammal), sharp teeth and good mobility, it can be a deadly creature. Males can average around 3,300 pounds (1,497 kg). Many reports have been made about Hippos attacking people both in the water and on land. Therefore, its best to stay away if you see one, in the wild.
From zoos and media, people have become to know polar bears as cute and cuddly creatures. However, their natural instinct is just the opposite. The are the most carnivorous species in the bear family, and the most likely to attack humans. However, unless you plan to take a trip to the Arctic, you do not have to worry about becoming a polar bear’s dinner. Polar bears can weigh up to 1,750 pounds (800 kg).
The King Cobra is the world’s longest venomous snake. It is predominantly found in India and other parts of Southeast Asia. The King Cobra’s venom’s toxins attack the victim’s central nervous system resulting in pain, vertigo and eventually paralysis. It has been reported that death can occur as short as 30 minutes without the antivenin. The toxin is so deadly, it could even kill a large elephant.
Better known as blowfish, Pufferfish are found in tropical seas all over the world. They are the second most poisonous vertebrae in the world. Their poison, called tetrodoxin, is found in the fish’s skin, muscle tissue, liver, kidneys and gonads. Tetrodoxin is over 1,000 times more poisonous than cyanide. However, chefs have still found ways to cook the fish, and it is considered a delicacy in places like Japan. Chefs must be licensed to do this, but accidental deaths from eating it still happen.
Box Jellyfish are considered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration one of the most venomous marine animals in the world. Found in the Indo-Pacific waters north of Australia, the nearly invisible jellyfish contains up to 15 tentacles each growing up to 10 feet long. Each tentacle is lined with stingers that contain toxins that can attack the heart, nervous system and skin cells. There is an antivenin, however, many of its victims go into shock and drown.
Golden Poison Dart Frog
The Golden Poison Dart Frogs are found on Colombia’s Pacific coast, and only grow to approximately the size of a paperclip. However, don’t let its small size fool you. This tiny frog has enough poison in it’s body to kill 10 grown men. It only takes 2 micrograms to kill one individual. That amount of liquid would fit onto the head of a pin. The frog releases the poison out of glands beneath its skin. Therefore, one touch can kill you.
The bullet ant, which was named for its powerful sting is found in humid lowland rainforests in parts of South America. The sting from one ant causes immediately and extreme pain. Their stings attack the central nervous system and can cause paralysis. One sting could incapacitate a full grown man. However, some South American tribes use the sting as initiation rites to become warriors.
The Gray Wolf is amongst one of Eurasia’s and North America’s most feared predators. They are about the size of a medium-to-large-sized dog, and travel in packs. What makes them such good predators is their sense of smell. They can smell their prey from a far distance, and then coordinate attacks with their pack. Wolf attacks on humans are rare, but when they do attack, they can be deadly and are normally directed towards small children.
Indonesian Needlefish are found swimming in schools near the surface of the ocean. They tend to feed on smaller fish and swimming crustaceans. However, its out of the water that they are most dangerous. The needlefish has the ability to hurl itself out of the water, and essentially becomes a flying dagger. People have been seriously injured, and killed, from this. These fish are attracted to light, so night fisherman are at high risk of an accidental attack.
The southern cassowary is a large flightless bird, that is related to the emu and ostrich. It mainly inhabits tropical rainforests in Indonesia, New Guinea and northeastern Australia. The cassowary is the second heaviest bird on earth, with a weight of 85 kilograms (187 pounds) and a height of up to 190 centimeters (6.25 feet). However, what makes these birds dangerous is their feet. Their three-toed feet are thick and powerful. Each foot is equipped with dagger-like claws that can rip through human flesh.
Russell’s Viper is considered one of the “big four” species in South Asia. This means it is one of four snakes that cause the most snake bites in the region. Russell’s viper can grow up to 166 centimeters or 5.5 feet long. Its main prey is rodents. Therefore, it is often times found in highly urbanized areas due to attraction of its prey to those areas. If bitten, medical treatment is advised immediately to receive the antivenin. Symptoms of a bite include bleeding from the gums, drop in blood pressure ad heart rate, vomiting, and kidney failure.
Black Spitting Thick-Tailed Scorpion
The Black Spitting Thick-Tailed scorpion has an ability like many cobras. It is able to eject its toxins as far as 1 meter. The venom is not normally deadly but can cause intense pain and temporary blindness (which can become permanent if not treated quickly). This scorpion is found in dry areas of Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and some parts of the Namib Desert and South Africa.
Australian Funnel-Web Spider
The Australian Funnel-Web Spider is a venom producing arachnid, native to Australia. What makes them so dangerous is actually their mating habits. Males tend to wander in warmer months looking for a respective mate. However, this wandering leads them many times into high populated areas, like homes and swimming pools. If they feel threatened (which can come from just being picked up), they will bite you several times. Therefore, there is a high risk on envenomation.
Don’t let the small size of these tiny fish fool you. The candiru only grows to a small 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in length, but can cause a huge amount of damage. The translucent, eel-like fish inhabits the Amazon river region, and is normally found in the gill cavities of other fishes, feeding on blood. However, the candiru has been known to attack humans. It will enter the urethra of unexpecting bathers, and once inside it will erect short spines.
The pork tapeworm is able to enter the human body after a human ingests food containing the worm’s egg. Once inside the body, the egg hatches allowing it to enter and exit the bloodstream. The larvae can settle in many types of body tissues. It can also cross the blood-brain barrier and affect the central nervous system. The embryos cause neurocysticercosis, which results in seizures.
Giant Silkworm Moth
The giant silkworm moth is famous for its larval form, rather than as an adult moth. It mainly inhabits South America and gained notoriety after scientists discovered its defense mechanisms. The caterpillar has various hollow spines on its body. At the bottom of each spine is a sack where toxins are stored. The spines are able to penetrate a predator and inject venom into the wound. This caterpillar is responsible for multiple human deaths in southern Brazil, and has been given the nickname assassin caterpillar.
The terciopelo viper inhabits the neotropical rainforest in Central America. It is considered the most dangerous snake in that region as it accounts for the highest number of snakebites in the area. It can grow up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) long, and its head can grow up to 10 centimeters (4 inches) wide. Their bite delivers a venom containing hemotoxins that can lead to local necrosis, which could require amputation.
The Hyena is a very intelligent animal. Hyenas can weigh up to 190 pounds and their bite is capable of breaking bones. Although they normally do not attack people, they will if they perceive the human as hurt, sick or incapacitated. Their ability to coordinate hunts enables them to easily capture and kill their prey. However, there are many African people who have learned to live peacefully amongst the hyenas, and even keeping some as pets.
Humans are, no surprise, one of the most dangerous species on the planet. Humans behave sometimes in very irrational ways, which can lead to violence and destruction. Even if we believe our actions are justified, those decisions can lead to some very horrible consequences. Not only do we hurt each other, but we also hurt the animals and nature that surrounds us. Hopefully one day this will change.