The Most Dangerous Animal on Earth

Someone emailed asking “What is the most dangerous animal in the world and why?”

My initial response was the mosquito. Thousands of people die from mosquito borne illnesses every year, after all.

One could argue that there are bacteria that kill more people, but technically speaking bacteria are not animals (they are in a different kingdom).

That being said, the question probably was referring to a predator, like a tiger or shark. Yet both those predators kill far few people than say the deadly box jellyfish or the tiny blue ring octopus. And even then, if you live in Arizona, none of those animals will ever endanger you.

Finally I called Scott and asked him. As our resident “zoo vet” I was curious which animal he would choose. I knew he never liked the cassoways at the zoo, because they were quite dangerous, but how often does one run into a cassowary?

His response was, as usual, well thought out and quite on target. It went roughtly like this:

The most dangerous animal on Earth, which kills more than any other animal, including those of its own species is – the human.

And of course this is true. The most fearsome animal on this planet is none other than ourselves.

garbage boy

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About Sheri Amsel

Sheri Amsel has degrees in Botany and Zoology from the University of Montana 1980, a Master's Degree in Anatomy, Physiology and Biomedical Illustration from Colorado State University 1987. Ms. Amsel interned at the Smithsonian Institute in 1983 in Scientific Illustration, taught anatomy and biology at three colleges from 1990 - 1997. In addition, Ms. Amsel has published more than 15 nonfiction children's books, two field guides for adults, and illustrated a myriad of books and interpretive displays on nature and science topics. Ms. Amsel has done science programming at more than 300 schools nationally, developed more than 20 educational nature trails in New York State, and coordinates school visits to local nature trails for environmental education programs for the Eddy Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conservation and habitat preservation. Ms. Amsel created the Exploring Nature Educational Resource website with the hopes of sharing her science and environmental education knowledge and experience with science educators and students worldwide.

One thought on “The Most Dangerous Animal on Earth

  1. The idea that humans are the most dangerous animal was insightful. I wouldn’t have thought of that.

    I have to wonder. I think that insects probably have us beat as far as causing deaths, but it’s a pretty close call. It’s ironic that in the 20th century we made the greatest advances in medicine, yet at the same time invented weapons capable of taking lives at a scale unprecedented in all of history.

    But insects carry at least as many weapons as we. Yellow fever, malaria, dengue, bubonic plague, trypanosomiasis (sleeping disease), leishmaniosis…just to name a few.

    The “most dangerous animals” quiz can be a stumper. Ask people about the most dangerous animal in Africa and they’ll probably say lion. Maybe cape buffalo. But as you’ve mentioned before, the most dangerous animal in Africa is the hippopotamus. Ask someone about the most dangerous animal in North America and they might guess moose (a good answer) or grizzly bears (another good answer), cougars or rattlesnakes; but surprisingly deer cause the most deaths. They can and do attack people. In his autobiography “Guts”, Gary Paulson relates witnessing a fatal attack. Most fatalities, though, are caused when people hit deer on the road and the deer crashes through the windshield. Inadvertent though it may be, it’s still a danger.

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