Scary Monsters!

Watching a TV programme about dinosaurs recently, got me thinking about how petrifying it would’ve been for humans to actually encounter these terrifying lizards in reality.  Thankfully, we never shared the earth with them, but even today, there are some rather scary creatures out there….

In my quest to find the scariest of them all, the first one I came up with was the shark and in particular, the infamous great white shark – surely this phenomenal oceanic predator deserves its fearful reputation?  Well, the truth is – not really.  OK, there are great white shark attacks on humans, last year there were around 11 –fewer than I’d imagined. It seems that the odds of you getting attacked by a shark are incredibly small – so maybe these guys don’t seem so villainous after all….

Contemplating other aquatic attackers, the crocodile reared its rather fearsome head.  Now crocs are actually responsible for many more attacks on humans than sharks – it’s estimated around 1,000 per year.  So best given a wide berth – but even so, it’s nowhere near the top of the attack stats…

It’s true that the water can be a dangerous place – whilst hippos might look rather benign, wallowing away in their muddy hollows, and not maybe an obvious choice as dangerous dudes, in reality they can be very aggressive and are responsible for around 500 fatal attacks per year, earning them the title of the world’s deadliest large land mammal – who knew!

I’m thinking that that terra firma is a safer bet – but is that true?  I mean what about all those top predators?  I’m referring to the big cats: lions, tigers, leopards – you get the picture, all of those sabre-toothed types – but just how many attacks are these ferrous felines responsible for?  Around 70 in the last year – believe it or not, elephants poise a greater threat, with 7 times more fatalities – so lots of respect for those Jumbos.

Whilst we’ve encountered some of nature’s potential assassins, we haven’t yet found our number one; perhaps we should move away from the larger animals (good plan!) and turn our attention to smaller creatures, which can pose an equally chilling threat – my list of these would include: spiders, snakes and scorpions.

So, what’s the story with these guys?  Well, snakes have earnt their dangerous reputation, being responsible for around 50,000 attacks per year.  Interestingly, it’s not the most venomous snake that is responsible for most of these – enter the saw-scaled viper (or hopefully not) – which is very aggressive towards humans and lives in populated areas, meaning that humans come into contact with it more often.  If you’re wondering about the most venomous snake in the world – it’s considered to be the Inland Taipan – but these guys are not at all aggressive – in fact they’re pretty placid types, meaning they’re very unlikely to attack.

Spiders…as a self-confessed arachnophobe, any of the eight-legged variety can send a shiver down my spine – but just how justified is this?  Not at all is the answer, with our arachnoid acquaintances only being responsible for around 6 fatalities per year – in fact you’re far more likely to be despatched by bee or wasp stings than by a spider bite.  By the way, there are a few contenders for the most venomous spider: wolf, wandering, black widow – but the consensus of opinion suggests it’s the Sydney funnel web – either way, I wouldn’t want to get close enough to find out …

On the subject of creepy crawlies… scorpions?  Again, it’s fairly rare to suffer long term effects from a scorpion sting, with most healthy folks living to tell the tale and only a small number of the species actually possessing poison that is harmful to humans…so our quest moves on then…

Despite my attempts to come up with some pretty worrying candidates, I’ve failed to identify the creature that is the most deadly to humankind…

This dubious title goes to one of the tiniest but most deadly beings of them all – the mosquito.  This pest is thought to account for up to 1 million deaths each year, due to the variety of deadly diseases that it carries – malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and west nile virus to name but some.  Yep this minuscule murderer has killed more humans than any other creature!  So, it just goes to show that when it comes to be dangerous, size isn’t everything…

But before you run off filled with dread about all the scary things out there, perhaps you might spare a thought for the runner up in our contest of terrors…  Homicides account for around ½ million deaths per year.  So perhaps the most frightening being of all is the one looking back at you from the mirror….

Published by candy hunter writer

Self publishing author - Childrens books. First book - Chuckle with Chumleigh; recently launched - Chumleigh and the Festive Secret and Chuckle with Chumleigh Again - available on Amazon.

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