Man is widely considered to be the deadliest animal on the planet, mostly because it’s hard to match the killing power of our guns and nuclear bombs. Even so, there are plenty of lethal predators out there that are more than willing to take us on and, if fortune favors these creates in battle, rip a chunk out of our flesh, or even end our lives.
Of course you’ll recognize some of the most formidable hunters on Earth on this list, and they deserve their fearsome reputations as man-eaters. However, some top predators like killer whales (orcas) didn’t make the list, because they don’t pose a real threat to human beings. Others on the list, like certain insect species, may surprise you — get ready to have your mind boggled by the number of people they dispatch every year.
Mosquitos kill more human beings than just about any other animal on the planet. Almost a million people a year die from the bite of these nettlesome insects, who fly around and drink the blood of other living things all day. Unfortunately, some mosquitos also carry and transmit the Malaria parasite, which is spread through contact with blood. These insects might be small, but they rank up there as probably the worst mass-murderers of all time, aided in their endeavors by deadly Malaria.
Polar bears are huge, powerful carnivores that can tear a person apart in a matter of seconds. Thankfully, they tend to stick to locations noted for extreme cold temperatures, which limits their opportunities to interact with large settlements of Homo Sapiens. If you’re a collector of fun facts, you might like to know that polar bears actively hunt human beings who encroach upon their territory. While a grizzly bear might maul you because it feels ambushed or threatened, a polar bear coming your way might actually be planning on eating you for dinner, since you (or at least your scent) has been on their mind for a while.
These little suckers might be pleasantly colorful, but they're also extremely deadly. Poison dart frogs got their name, obviously, because the venom on their skin is exceedingly potent, and makes for great poison-tipped darts and arrows. One little frog has enough poison to kill a basketball team, not including the guys sitting on the bench. Also know as poison arrow frogs, these small-but-badass killers can be found throughout the jungles of Central and South America.
The Inland Taipan snake, which makes its home in Australia, is the most poisonous land snake on earth. It’s a fairly large snake that likes to attack its victims repeatedly, just in case the first bite doesn't do the trick. Of course the first bite almost always does the trick, thanks to the Inland Taipan’s powerful presynaptic and postsynaptic neurotoxins, which are strong enough to end the lives of 100 men. Talk about overkill –– this snake doesn’t mess around once it chooses to strike.
While bull and tiger sharks attack their fair number of surfers and swimmers, no other fish with teeth swimming through the oceans inspires more fear that the infamous great white. And the bad news –– if shark attacks are something you worry about –– is that shark attacks are on the rise. Statistically speaking, your chances of getting bitten or devoured by a shark are still pretty slim; most people are too bony, without enough blubber on them, to satisfy a great white’s cravings. These massive predators usually only take a bite out of a person due to curiosity or mistaken identity (surfers on boards look like seals). Regardless, that bite can often cost a human being an arm, leg or...head.
It's probably not news to you that lions are dangerous. Sure, people can befriend these wild beasts, like Kevin Richardson, or the adoptive parents of Christian the Lion, but that doesn’t change the fact that lions are relentless hunters that attack more than 600 people every year. A lot of these attacks occur because humans have encroached upon lion habitat, but that comes of little solace to anyone who has ever accidentally encroached on a lion habitat (and haven't we all?). Two Tsavo man-eating lions attacked and killed more than 30 people in the late 1800s, as fictionalized in the film The Ghost and the Darkness. That might not be normal behavior for these big cats, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind on your next safari.
Hungry Hippos is a fun game the entire family can play, but when the family is out on safari and a wild hippo comes charging their way, “don't die” is the true name of the game. Hippos are extremely aggressive and dangerous animals, responsible for countless human deaths. Folks tend to forget that they can indeed leave water, and when they do, they wreak havoc on land. These huge creatures kill close to 3,000 people every year -- that’s more than lions or leopards could ever hope to dispatch. Pro Tip: Never get in between a mother hippo and her calf; it’ll be the last thing you ever do.
Crocodiles look mean for a reason -- they are. If one ever clutches you between its powerful jaws, you’ll know what we mean. While they croc is merely acting in accordance with their nature as a top predator picking up something for lunch, folks who live around them know better than to mess with these mighty lizards. The basic design of the crocodile hasn’t evolved much over the millennia, because it has worked extremely well as a killing machine.If it ain't broke...Thousands of people get snatched up every year, drowned and eaten by crocs. Statistically speaking, when it comes to swimming with crocs or sharks you’d be better off with the sharks, believe it or not. Better solution: why not avoid both?
Box Jellyfish might not look threatening, since they don’t have any sharp teeth to display, but looks can be deceiving. These semi-transparent sea creatures have some of the most lethal, heart-stopping venom on earth. Box jellyfish, also known as sea wasps, kill hundreds of people annually. Unlike other jellyfish that just float around, box jellyfish can propel themselves through the water, so if you see one or more of these sea wasps “drifting” your way while you’re out for a swim, you had best get out of the water as fast as you possibly can.
Like mosquitos, the bloodsucking tse tse fly is a transmitter of disease. In this case, the disease is the dreaded 'sleeping sickness.' Tens of thousands of people die every year from this disease, thanks to the bites of these little flies. Fortunately, trends show that infection rates have been going down over the last decade. In the worst years, more than 200,000 people died from tse tse bites and sleeping sickness. Contrary to popular belief, sometimes bad things (not good things) come in very small packages.