Sharks may star in the bloodiest blockbusters–and certain, spiders have a tendency to monopolize the phobia section –but when you get down to the facts, those are only two classes of creatures one of the funniest to stem Earth. In fact, there are lots of ferocious beasts, both large and small, which are downright deadly. From knowingly contributing to a significant reduction of life, to packaging sufficient venom to put unlucky travelers from the commission, here are the 13 most dangerous creatures on earth –and where to find them.
Florida’s alligators may be frightening, but they have nothing on their cousin, the fearsome crocodile, that can be more short-tempered, easily provoked, and competitive toward anything that crosses its path. Of all the species on the Earth, the largest–and most dangerous–is the saltwater crocodile. These ferocious killers may grow up to 23 feet in length, weigh over a ton, and are known to kill hundreds every year, together with crocodiles as a whole responsible for more human deaths annually than bees. Saltwater crocodiles are particularly dangerous since they’re excellent swimmers in both freshwater and salt (yes, their name is confusing). If that’s not enough to frighten you, put it in perspective: Humans chomp into a well-done steak at about 200 psi, a mere five percent of the potency of a saltie’s jaw.
The species (which may grow up to 14 ft ) is the fastest of all snakes, slithering at speeds up to 12.5 mph, making escaping one in remote areas that much harder. Thankfully, black mambas generally only hit when threatened–but if they do, they will bite repeatedly, providing enough venom (a mix of neuro- and cardiotoxins) at a single bite to kill ten people. And if one doesn’t receive the correlative antivenom over 20 minutes, the bites are almost 100% fatal.
Pufferfish, also called blowfish, is located in tropical seas around the world. Although they’re the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world (following the golden arrow dart frog), they’re arguably more harmful as their neurotoxin (known as tetrodotoxin) is found from the fish’s skin, muscle tissue, liver, and kidneys, and gonads, all which must be prevented when preparing the animal for human ingestion. Indeed, while wild encounters are certainly dangerous, the risk of death from a pufferfish raises when eating it in countries like Japan, where it is regarded as a delicacy known as fugu and can only be prepared by trained, accredited chefs–even then, accidental deaths from ingestion happen several times each year. The tetrodotoxin is up to 1,200 times more hazardous than that of cyanide, and can cause deadening of the tongue and lips, dizziness, vomiting, arrhythmia, difficulty breathing, and muscle paralysis, and, if left untreated, death.
Indian Saw-Scaled Viper
Whilst lots of snake species pack enough venom to easily bring down a human, not all of them take the multifaceted approach of the Indian saw-scaled viper, which explains why they are among the top contributors to snakebite cases. Sometimes called the little Indian viper or just the saw-scaled viper, these reptiles reside in some of the most populated areas of the range that they inhabit, which extends well beyond India. Since they’re typically active at night, it is best to listen to their defensive cool noise; this stems out of behavior called stridulation, in which the snake forms coils and compresses its own scales collectively. Even with a warning, saw-scaled vipers are extremely aggressive, with over twice a lethal dose to every bite. (Fortunately, there’s an effective antivenom.)
Often found floating (or gradually moving at rates close to five mph ) in Indo-Pacific waters, these transparent, nearly invisible invertebrates are considered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as the most venomous marine creature in the world. Their namesake cubic frames contain around 15 tentacles in the corners, with each growing as much as 10 feet long, all lined with thousands of stinging cells–called nematocysts–which contain toxins that simultaneously attack the heart, nervous system, and skin tissues. While antivenoms do exist, the venom is so overwhelming and potent that lots of human victims, of the hundreds of reported deadly encounters every year. Even if you are lucky enough to make it into the hospital and get the antidote, survivors can sometimes experience substantial pain for months afterward and keep nasty scars in the creature’s tentacles.
Golden Poison Dart Frog
The poison dart is a big, varied collection of brightly colored frogs, of which just a handful of species are especially harmful to humans. The most deadly, the golden poison dart, occupies the little range of rain forests along Colombia’s Pacific coast and grows to about two inches (roughly the size of a paper clip). Its poison, called batrachotoxin, is so potent that there is enough in 1 frog to kill ten grown men, with just two micrograms–about the amount which would fit onto the head of a pin–had to kill a single person. However, what makes the amphibian especially dangerous is its poison glands are located beneath the skin, meaning a mere touch will lead to trouble. Little wonder that the indigenous Emberá people have laced the tips of the blow darts used for searching with the frog’s poison for centuries. Sadly, deforestation has landed the frog on any endangered list, but even if you have a rare sighting if trekking, do not go reaching for it.